Land tax bill shock

Silvana and Connie Sciullo with Ben Wyatt.
Silvana and Connie Sciullo with Ben Wyatt.

SELF-FUNDED retirees from the southeastern suburbs were left outraged after receiving a land tax bill more than double of what they paid last year.

Opposition treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt raised the issue to Treasurer Mike Nahan in Parliament on November 12 as a grievance for residents who were shocked by a tax hike.

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Nahan said the State was in the red due to the mining boom ending and raising land tax was one of the only ways to raise revenue.

Thornlie resident Silvana Sciullo said it was ridiculous for the Government to send her a bill of $3859 for the land tax of her investment property in Dianella when it was just $1697 last year.

She said her businesswoman daughter Connie had also been hit hard by an increase in land taxes.

Ms Sciullo said she felt trapped by the tax and selling her home would not be an option.

“We expect rises but not like that,” she said. “I have provided for myself in my old age and if I can get the rent I get now, I can survive.

“But if they are going to charge tax like that, what am I going to have left?”

Maddington resident Lena Fiodora received a bill for $3792 last year and recently received a $7490 bill for land tax for her properties in Carlisle.

“I am a self-funded retiree, when I take out $7500 out, that is a big chunk,” Ms Fiodora said.

“If our bill was $5000 I would have complained (and) you expect increases, but I just can’t fathom this.”

Both residents no longer work and have to rely on their investment properties for income and do not receive anything from the pension.

Mr Wyatt said in parliament Premier Colin Barnett told him landowners could sell and adjust property holdings, but Ms Sciullo said, “they were dreaming”. Mr Wyatt said the Barnett government should have planned more for the post-mining boom.

“It is realistic to say that the WA Government will likely never again enjoy such massive revenue growth,” he said. “This is why we have lost our AAA credit rating and why property owners are being penalised so brutally at a time when the economy simply cannot absorb those increases.”

Dr Nahan said it was a valid issue.

“The difficult decision to reform the land tax scale was made to help ensure that the State’s finances remain sustainable in the face of the most challenging economic and fiscal conditions experienced in Western Australia in the last two to three decades,” he said.

He said land tax is not applied to the family home.