The operation of the Fire Services Property Levy is looking increasingly murky and open to exploitation as its implementation continues.

Many people are complaining to us that they are paying three, four and five times more
under the Napthine Government’s fire services property levy than under the
previous scheme, despite the fact that it has been advertised as fairer and
more equitable for everyone.

The Treasurer, Michael O’Brien, claimed on 13 May 2013 that the new scheme “delivers a major tax cut for many families and businesses” and that it would deliver “savings of around 20 per cent for Victorian households.”

People who are paying 500 per cent more– including small investment property owners and community housing organisations hit by the commercial rate than they were previously might be incredulous about this.

It is becoming ever clearer that certain groups are being hit a lot harder by this
tax and that this is because of the anomalies and inconsistencies in the legislation.

Botched loopholes and a lack of accountability mean that either by deception or accident the Government can recoup much more from the levy and it is showing up in the anticipated revenue.

The 2012/13 Budget Update, delivered in March 2013, showed that the anticipated revenue from the Fire Services Property Levy in 2013/14 was $587.3 million. By the time
the 2013/14 Budget was handed down only two months later, this figure had expanded by  $23.6 million to $610.9 million.

The money raised from the Fire Services Property Levy goes into consolidated revenue, not a dedicated fund, so there is no oversight about where the money will actually go.

The legislation also allows the Minister to set the rate of the levy based on “any other matter the Minister considers is relevant” and if the Minister raises the levy there is no way of reviewing his decision.