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Six-figure bill likely over Govt’s failed land tax battle

Taxpayers will be hit with a six-figure bill after the former Government launched a doomed bid to get a legal ruling overturned.


The Royal Gazette revealed that Government had hired a costly legal team to appeal the decisions of two independent tribunals which had dismissed a 2008 property valuation made by its Land Valuation Department on the home of former Premier Dame Pamela Gordon Banks and her husband, Andrew. Land Valuation Director Chris Farrow ruled that the home should be deemed for land tax purposes as a single unit with an annual rental value of $852,000.

The couple later received an inaccurate land tax bill for almost $215,000. They decided to fight the decision and eventually had the ruling overturned by two independent tribunals.

In November 2011, the former Progressive Labour Party Government appealed against both tribunal findings, and the Attorney General’s Chambers drafted in Jonathan Small QC and barrister Nathaniel Duckworth from London. But Government's case was dismissed by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley and, later, by the Court of Appeal, meaning all costs must be met by Government.

Last night Attorney General Mark Pettingill acknowledged that the case will cost Government "in excess of $100,000", although he pointed out that a final bill had yet to be determined.

And he refused to criticise his predecessor, Kim Wilson, who held the post when the appeal was launched.

"This action had commenced and was far advanced before I took office at the end of December 2012 — I was not in a position to review or scrutinise the case before the appeal was heard," Mr Pettingill said.

"I do not anticipate any further court action and this should be the end of the matter."

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Published July 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 03, 2013 at 11:00 pm)

Six-figure bill likely over Govt’s failed land tax battle

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