Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (13:21): My question is for the minister representing the Treasurer and relates to tax concessions for the so-called religious charities. Fairfax revealed several years ago that the Catholic Church holds assets in Victoria valued at over $9 billion, making it the largest non-government landholder in the state. Those holdings reportedly include banks, a superannuation fund, an insurance company, a news service and a telecommunications provider. Properties reportedly include offices, residences, car parks, conference centres, tennis courts, mobile phone towers and a restaurant. My question is: which of those business types do not receive land tax concessions even if registered as part of a Catholic Church charity?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (13:21): I thank Ms Patten for her question. It is a topic that she has advocated and sought advice on regularly, and I will certainly seek a detailed response from the Treasurer and respond in accordance with the standing orders.
Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (13:22): Thank you, Minister, for that. The Treasurer’s office recently advised my office that charities do have to pay land tax if the land is used for commercial rather than charitable purposes. My supplementary question is: how is that charitable-versus-commercial assessment made by the government?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (13:22): I do not have that information on hand. I will seek an answer from the Treasurer and provide it in accordance with the standing orders.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Question without notice 30/11/21
The President ordered a written response for both questions (response due 2 December 2021).
Answered: 2 December 2021
A written response was ordered for both the substantive and supplementary questions. Written response received:
I thank Ms Patten, Member for the Northern Metropolitan region, for her question.
Revenue laws administered by the State Revenue Office contain secrecy provisions that protect the confidentiality of taxpayer information. The State Revenue Office protects information by only collecting, using and disclosing information in accordance with the law. Whilst I am unable to comment on the private tax affairs of a particular organisation, broadly, exemptions and concessions from land tax are available to charitable organisations in certain circumstances.
Relevantly, land owned by a charity is eligible for exemption if it is used and occupied exclusively for charitable purposes. If only part of the land is used and occupied exclusively for charitable purposes, only that portion is exempt.
Generally, only purposes connected to the achievement of the charitable objectives of a charitable institution are considered charitable. If the land is used and occupied for a commercial purpose, whether by a lessee or by the charity itself, the land is unlikely to qualify for exemption. A range of factors will be considered by the Commissioner in making this determination, including the objectives of the charity, its activities and the actual use of the land.
TIM PALLAS MP