Sporting club fear on land tax hike

NORTHERN Tasmanian sporting organisations have expressed concerns over possible cost increases if councils decide to pass on changes to the state's Land Tax Act.

The state government has announced that from July 1 next year it will revert to the 2011-12 taxing structure that was in place for council- owned sporting facilities between 2003 and 2011.

Finance Minister Scott Bacon said yesterday that council-owned facilities had been subject to land tax since 2003. However, after local government challenged the act, councils were wholly exempted from paying the tax for the 2012-13 financial year.

"Since 2003, the commissioner collected land tax on council-owned sporting facilities, where fees were charged, while exempting public open space such as gardens," he said.

"For example, if a tennis facility was located within public space, the tennis facility was taxed while the surrounding open space was exempt.

"The recent amendments to land tax do not change the tax imposed on those facilities.

"Therefore there should not be any financial impact on clubs, or on programs run by clubs to encourage children to play sport."

It is believed that councils are now passing on the tax when clubs renew their leases.

Prospect Park Sports Club president and South Launceston Football Club chief executive Daniel Smedley said any increase to running costs could potentially cripple some clubs.

"Depending on the scale of the land tax fee if it is passed on, then it could be significant," Mr Smedley said.

"Some venues now are really on a knife's edge as far as their sustainability, because they haven't got enough users ... at some point the cost of the venue stops people from participating.

"We need to look at the big issue of how we keep venues affordable."

Bowls North president Tony Benneworth said councils should not subject sporting clubs to more imposts.

"We have got water problems, now this, dwindling memberships - it's just never-ending," Mr Benneworth said.

"Every impost that comes through has got to get passed on. Ninety per cent of clubs rely wholly on fees as they haven't got funds and big sponsors."

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