Christmas has come early for thousands of north-coast pensioners after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) announced it would not extend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to include mobile-home park site rentals.
In yesterday’s announcement, the ATO withdrew its draft ruling, issued in November, which would have added 10 per cent to the cost of site rentals.
In the Tweed, where many pensioners live in mobile-home parks, this could have added up to $50 a week to their rents.
The issue crossed party lines as both the ALP Richmond MP, Justine Elliot, and Nationals Page MP, Kevin Hogan, backed calls by the Affiliated Residential Parks Residents Association (ARPRA) to have the proposal scrapped.
Ms Elliot raised the issue in parliament and Mr Hogan wrote to the ATO and assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos asking them to drop the idea.
President of ARPRA’s Tweed branch, Ken Cummins, described the move as ‘outrageous’ and said it would ‘impact severely on fixed-income pensioners and retirees living in mobile-home parks in the region’.
Yesterday the ATO said it had ‘considered comments on its draft ruling and decided not to change the GST treatment of moveable-home estates’.
‘Over the past seven weeks, we have been considering a range of submissions from the community and stakeholders as part of our consultation process,’ tax commissioner Chris Jordan said.
‘We have carefully considered the legal arguments and practical implications and decided that we don’t need to change the existing GST treatment of these estates,’ he added.
‘With the benefit of submissions, it is evident that while moveable-home estates have changed, they are still similar enough to caravan parks to receive the concessional treatment. In particular, both involve letting of sites separately to the building, and provide communal facilities to residents.
Kevin Hogan said yesterday that he welcomed the ATO’s decision.
‘This is great news and a wonderful Christmas present for the hundreds of moveable-home residents in Page,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Just this morning I addressed moveable-home residents at Casino Resort, who were worried about the additional cost of living they would incur if this draft ruling stood,’ he added.
‘The GST was never supposed to be applied to people’s homes and this would have affected people who were least able to afford it.’
Ms Elliot said she also welcomed the move, which she credited to local community action.
‘Special thanks go to Ken Cummins for leading the fight here on the north coast. Over the past two months, we’ve worked together against the government’s plan to charge GST to people living in moveable homes.
‘This has been a grass roots campaign to protect locals, especially our pensioners living in mobile home parks.
Mr Hogan said, however, that the proposal was never government policy and had only arisen when the
Tax Office was asked to examine the issue under the previous government.