Cadiff rates protest
Creative Commons License photo credit: nicksarebi

In the past year more than 81,000 Victorians have received rates default notices, which then impose a 12 per cent interest charge on the debts.

Council Rates are again in the headlines, with affordability pressures crunching into a large number of rates payment defaults. How ironic is it that the charges that can assist in curbing the speculation induced affordability crisis (that caused so many defaults in the first place) are shot down in flames by this article?

Holding charges on land such as Council Rates (more effectively placed on Land as Site Value Rating rather than the distortive CIV) and Land Taxes (ideally scrapped in its present form and levied at a flat rate on all land) are the most efficient mechanism to unfurl the potential withheld from the community by speculative activities such as land banking and ghost owning of investment properties.

Fortnightly payments on council rates would certainly be a good step forward. Additionally, yearly valuations should be mandatory by all councils, so that such steep rates rises aren’t used as battering rams to shoot down this highly effective mechanism of self funding. The move towards Site Rental is the most important council reform needed.

Council Rates are a measure to ensure the prime locations are put to their best use. We need to inspire stories showing how these same pensioners face a higher rating burden (due to their improvements) than their neighbouring land banker.

Or maybe a story of a 33 year old still living at home because he is saving up to buy the family home he and his partner want. Should Gen X & Y start creating signs like the one above? Would the aging single pensioner living in a large draughty family home be better off to move into a small compact apartment? Is that what the council rating system is encouraging?

Unfortunately such stories get distorted to reflect the opinion of the privileged, who latch onto pensioner disquiet to leverage such concern as as a battering ram for the removal of the last of the government contributions they cannot avoid. Land cannot be hidden in a tax haven.