Is Your Principal Place of Residence Really Exempt from Land Tax?

03 NOVEMBER 2016 PROPERTY LAW & CONVEYANCING
Is Your Principal Place of Residence Really Exempt from Land Tax?

Not all instances of a landowner occupying their principal place of residence qualify for an exemption from land tax.

In a recent case a man bought some vacant land and commenced building. He built the garage first with the idea that this would be his principal place of residence for land tax purposes.

Some important facts to note:

  • Within the garage had a temporary toilet, though he often used the neighbour’s backyard toilet and shower.

  • He also showered and ate at work.

  • The plaintiff had a bed, cooking facilities, some furniture, washing facilities and power points in the garage.

  • The plaintiff’s partner and son stayed in the garage occasionally.

However despite these facts the Commissioner of State Revenue stated that the land was not his principal place of residence and they went to Court.

The commissioner put forward the following arguments:

  • architecturally the garage was unsuitable for residential purposes and a mere sleeping place was not residential in the proper sense;

  • the plaintiff had no legal right to occupy the garage (though in reality what mattered was that he did);

  • the plaintiff’s partner was a caring mother who would not allow her son to sleep in a garage (the Tribunal found this to be speculative); and

  • utility bills for the plaintiff were going to his mother’s place (the plaintiff argued this was only for convenience).

The Court disagreed with the Commissioner and concluded that the land was not used for anything other than the development of the new house and its’ use by the plaintiff as his residence.

If you are using your land in any unusual way as a residence then a chat with your solicitor might be in order to ensure that you do not fall foul of the Commissioner’s view of the land use and receive a land tax bill.