The ACT government expects to recoup $50 million in unpaid land taxes over the next four years by using data matching techniques to find people who have failed to declare they owe the tax.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it did not take much sleuthing with publicly available information to determine whether a property was rented out, meaning its owners were subject to land tax.
"It's not a robodebt process. We are employing people, but it is clear to me on advice from our Revenue Office that there is an issue here that needs further investigation," Mr Barr said.
The mid-year budget review, tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday afternoon, revealed revenue from land tax would be $17.4 million higher in 2022-23 compared to the budget estimates from August
Mr Barr said it was appropriate to pursue people who were not paying tax.
"That's how we keep tax low for everyone. If there's a leakage in the tax base, it means those people who do the right thing are paying more than they should, so that's why we're particularly focused on compliance," he said.
Property owners must pay land tax on properties that are not their principal place of residence and are required to notify the government of their land tax liability.
A spokeswoman for the ACT government said data sources to determine land tax liabilities included internal records, public rental listings, utility connections, electoral records, driver licence records, Australian Taxation Office records and rental bonds information.
"This is then cross-referenced against internal records that show whether the ACT Revenue Office has been advised of a land tax liability for the relevant period of time," the spokeswoman said.
"If the data indicators show that the property may have been liable for land tax and that a land tax liability was not disclosed to the ACT Revenue Office for the relevant period of time, then this is flagged as a potential party to receive an enquiry email."
MORE MID-YEAR A.C.T. BUDGET
The ACT Revenue Office sent 355 initial enquiry emails about potential land tax liabilities in December; the office sent 118 follow-up emails.
"Those who were sent the initial enquiry email were asked to respond within 14 days from the date of the email. Those who were sent the follow up email were asked to respond within 7 days from the date of the email," the spokeswoman said.
Revenue from land tax is expected to be $59 million higher than the August budget estimates over the four years to 2025-26.
The August budget forecast land tax revenue of $172 million in 2022-23, but the budget update forecast $189.4 million.
Land tax is forecast to peak in 2023-24 when it collects $214.8 million for the ACT government, before declining in the subsequent years of the forward estimates.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.