The ACT government has been urged to overhaul the territory's entire rates and land system after a lengthy inquiry into how changes to land valuation calculations hit Canberra's unit owners.
ACT Legislative Assembly Public Accounts committee chairwoman Vicki Dunne tabled on Thursday the committee's 186-page report of its inquiry into the government's controversial changes to the way land values were calculated for units last year.
Mrs Dunne told the Assembly the territory government had not kept faith with the ACT's unit owners about their rates and land tax bills, saying they had bought into the market on one set of assumptions, which were abruptly changed in 2017.
Mrs Dunne said the bipartisan committee's six recommendations were unanimous, with the most important recommendation a call for government to devise a new method of calculating rates an land tax for unit title properties.
Among the issues explored during the inquiry were how the changes had forced many unit owners to pay massive increases to their rates and land tax, as well as an apparent lack of any mandate the government had to make the changes.
It followed extensive outcry from unit owners after the way unit valuations were calculated changed last year from a share of the unimproved value of land to calculating the value of the entire block, then dividing that by the number of units, pushing most units into the highest tax bracket.
Despite wide criticism of the changes, the government has maintained they were made to address inequities in the previous system, which had some owners of top-tier unit properties paying less tax than owners of cheaper free-standing homes.
Almost all of the 98 submissions sent to the inquiry were from residents opposed to the changes, many of whom were unit owners who found their rates and land tax bills had increased substantially, in some cases more than doubling.
Many submitters, like Cook resident Melita Dahl, told the committee they bought strata-titled homes as they believed they could offset the cost of strata fees with more affordable rates.
But, her submission said, that changed in July 2017, when she suffered a 32 per cent increase in her rates bill in a single year, or an extra $494 in dollar terms.
Another, Gary Jobson of Monash, told the committee the change effectively increased the valuation based charge of the rates bill for his unit by 113 per cent, and the total rates bill up 30 per cent compared to 2016-17.
Couple Roger Neil Smith and Diana Ruth Smith also wrote the committee saying the change led to a 117 per cent increase in their valuation based charge, labelling the move an "outrageous and unprecedented money grab applying to all apartment owners without any reasonable rationale or consultation".
For some investors, the changes meant they were forced to pass on the added costs to renters, while others were now considering selling up, while some less vocal unit owners, government figures suggest, may have seen reduced taxes due to the changes.
The committee also urged the government to complete a public review of the entire rating and land tax calculation system for both units and free-standing homes to address any inequities, and that unit owners get accees to a progressive tax scale.
Mrs Dunne said taken together, the recommendations amounted to a call to government for a full overhaul of the territory's rates and land tax systems, to resolve what were very significant problems inherent in the current system.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said she backed the committee's report, but also wanted a wider examination of the system, which could make it more equitable, citing people on low incomes or pensions in older suburbs, where values had risen but their incomes had not.
No Labor MLA spoke to the report in the chamber, while a spokeswoman for the Chief Minister said the government thanked the committee and would review the report.