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On 23 July 2015, the taxpayer became the registered proprietor of a property in Hawthorn (the property), with the intention of demolishing the existing house and building a new family home for herself, her husband and their 3 children. The existing home was demolished in July 2016 and construction of the new building was completed in September 2017, following which the taxpayer and her family entered into occupation of their new home. The occupancy permit, however, was not granted until December 2019.

Between the time of acquisition of the property and demolition of the existing home, the only use made of the property was by:

  • a third party, who rented the existing house for 8 weeks between late September and late November 2015
  • the taxpayer and her husband for a few nights “here and there” to get a sense of its aspect at different times of day in order to inform the design process
  • by the 2 eldest (adult) children between December 2015 and July 2016, as an “experiment” in living on their own (noting that on some occasions, the taxpayer also stayed at the property to keep her daughter company if her son was away).

In March 2016 the taxpayer advised the Commissioner that she had been using and occupying the property as her principal place of residence (PPR) since 15 December 2015 and the Commissioner assessed it as being exempt from land tax under section 54 of the Land Tax Act 2005. This was later overturned in March 2020 following an investigation and the PPR exemption was removed for the 2016 to 2020 land tax years.

By email dated 29 March 2020 the taxpayer objected to each of the 2016 to 2020 assessments on the grounds that the property was eligible for the PPR exemption. The Commissioner allowed the objection only in respect of granting the PPR exemption for the 2020 land tax year onwards.

The taxpayer requested that the 2016 and 2017 land tax assessments be referred for consideration by the Tribunal on the basis that she had purchased the property with the intention to use and occupy the premises on the land as her PPR once it was constructed, and therefore should be eligible for the PPR exemption.


On 18 January 2022 the Tribunal handed down its decision in favour of the Commissioner. The Tribunal found that despite her intention to occupy the property once construction had been completed, she did not use and occupy the land as her PPR for both the 2016 and 2017 land tax years.

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