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Public Transport Development Authority v Commissioner for State Revenue [2017] VSCA 266

Background

This matter concerns land tax assessments issued in respect of land comprising part of the Southern Cross Station in Spencer Street Melbourne. The sole issue in dispute was the determination of site values for that land.

The matter was initially heard by the Tribunal (constituted by its President). Garde J concluded that the site values were significantly above those contended by the Taxpayers, but also below those contended by the Commissioner. The Taxpayers sought leave to appeal from his Honour’s decision.

Decision

On 22 September 2017, the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Commissioner, granting the Taxpayers leave to appeal, but dismissing the appeal.

Broadly, the Taxpayers contended that usage of the subject land was not commercially viable because the revenues generated by uses within the station did not cover the high building costs associated with designing and developing the station and the ongoing expense of operating it. Therefore, they argued that a nominal site value should result.

The Court rejected that contention. Their Honours concluded that the subject land had real value because of its ‘potentiality’ to the State in its unique role as the provider of public transport services. A valuer must seek to put a value on that potentiality.

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