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Exemption - principal place of residence; contiguous land


The taxpayer owned her Principal Place of Residence (PPR) and two other properties (the Disputed Land) separated from her PPR by common property and a third property (the Connecting Property), which was owned by a company of which the taxpayer was the sole shareholder. These properties formed part of a residential development that had a focus on ‘sustainability and community-centred living’.

Relevantly, the Commissioner assessed the Disputed Lands for land tax for the 2014 to 2018 tax years. The taxpayer objected on the ground that the ‘contiguous land’ exemption in s54(3) of the Land Tax Act applied. 

The Tribunal found in favour of the Commissioner. While the Tribunal found that the taxpayer had an implied licence that made it possible for her to move across and around the Connecting Property to access the Disputed Lands, the Tribunal also found that the Disputed Lands were not used ‘solely for the private benefit and enjoyment’ of the taxpayer pursuant to s54(3)(c) as the taxpayer’s evidence showed that the other residents of the development were granted ‘free and unrestricted access’ to the Disputed Lands. The taxpayer sought leave from the Supreme Court of Victoria to appeal against the Tribunal’s decision.


On 19 June 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in favour of the Commissioner, holding that it was open for the Tribunal on the evidence to make a finding that the ‘contiguous land’ exemption did not apply because the taxpayer did not satisfy s54(3)(c) as the Disputed Lands were not ‘used solely’ for the ‘private benefit and enjoyment’ of the taxpayer. 

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