Foreign firms fear QLD sting
Queensland foreign-owned companies are concerned about a new State tax.
Queensland has increased its land tax absentee surcharge from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent and extended it to apply to foreign corporations and trustees of foreign trusts.
This comes in addition to an increase in land tax for companies and trusts of 0.25 cents for every dollar over $5 million.
The measures, part of the State Government's 2019-20 Budget, are intended to raise a total of $778 million over the forward estimates.
Bundaberg Sugar, a major regional employer owned by Belgian-based Finasucre Group, says the tax has largely gone under the radar.
The company’s chief financial officer Leone Aslett says Bundaberg Sugar will have to pay almost double the tax it did last financial year.
“Last year we paid an increase of 25 per cent of land tax which was about $250,000 and this year they've announced another 10 per cent increase on top of that land tax,” she said.
“In 2017–18 we paid just over a $1 million in land tax and this year we'll pay $2.5 million in land tax.
“I wouldn't say it would send us broke but it will certainly hinder further investment.”
“The sugar industry is very hard hit at the moment with global sugar prices low, electricity prices high and with the crops decline as well it means that we have to pay over about $1.4 million that we just don't have.
“I would think if foreign businesses are trying to invest in Queensland then they get hit with unexpected increases like this it makes you question why investors would be looking to Queensland to do business.”
Associate Professor David Morrison from the University of Queensland's School of Law agreed that it could reduce investment.
“I do think that they could [deter foreign investment] because land tax is levied by the State Government and there are differences between states and how they handle land tax,” he said.
A Government spokesperson says officials are consulting with companies, and could provide relief to some of those affected.
“The Palaszczuk Government recognises that in some circumstances it would be appropriate to grant foreign companies and trustees of foreign trusts ex gratia relief from the foreign surcharge, as is common in other states,” the Government said.