We now turn our attention to the various exemptions and concessions, together with the implications when buying/selling property in the levy areas, and for commercial tenancies.
As discussed, the Victorian government imposes the levy on “off-street” parking spaces used for parking cars or larger motor vehicles within the levy area annually. The levy is assessed on a calendar year basis and the State Revenue Office (SRO) issues assessments annually. The levy is charged on each space that existed as leviable parking space at any time in the previous calendar year.
Claiming a congestion levy exemption or concession An owner can claim a congestion levy exemption by completing and lodging the requisite exemption or concession claim form with the SRO.
If you own or operate a car park, and a person who occupies parking spaces in your car park wishes to claim an exemption from the Congestion Levy, you should ask them to fill out the exemption claim form and return it to you, so you may claim an exemption on their behalf in your Annual Return.
If an occupant of your car park has already provided you with a written claim for exemption, confirming that the relevant exemption criteria are satisfied, there is no need to ask the occupant to complete the exemption claim form as well.
The exemption claim can only be received from the car park owner (for private car parks) or the owner/operator (for public car parks). The owner must retain completed forms and other written records for any exemption claimed. These must be provided to the SRO on request to substantiate any exemptions that you have claimed.
It would therefore appear that the onus is on the owner to apply for, and substantiate any claim for an exemption sought once the Annual Return is received in November.
Exemptions and concessions that apply to parking spaces within the current levy boundary will also apply to the extended levy area.
The exemptions generally depend on the owner and/or the use of the parking spaces and include the following:
- residential and residential visitors parking
- designated disabled spaces
- parking spaces provided free of charge by local councils, religious bodies, hospitals, charitable institutions, universities, museums and libraries
- parking spaces provided free of charge for visitors, clients, patients or consultants
- parking spaces provided by a hospital for the exclusive use of its patients and visitors
- overnight fleet vehicle parking
- overnight guest parking at hotels, apartments, etc
Concessions If a parking space is exempt or did not exist as a parking space for part of a calendar year, you may be able to apply for a concession to reduce the congestion levy otherwise payable on the parking space.
The owner of a private car park may claim a part year concession if a parking space was an exempt parking space, was not capable of being used or did not exist as a parking space for more than 30 days in the year preceding the assessment year. The ‘more than 30 day requirement’ does not have to be consecutive.
e.g. an existing tenant of a private car park that is associated with an office block vacates the premises at the end of September. The car park owner fails to find a tenant to replace the previous tenant and the parking spaces remain vacant as they are not available for use by any other persons.
The owner or operator of a public car park may claim a part year concession if a parking space was an exempt parking space or did not exist as a parking space for any period of time in the year preceding the assessment year. This means that a concession would still apply even if a parking space did not exist as a parking space for a day.
e.g. three of the parking spaces are converted into a bicycle storage area for 7 days in a calendar year. As three of the parking spaces do not exist as a parking space for 7 days in a calendar year, a concession would apply.
What do I need to do if I purchase premises with a car park? If you purchase a car park or a property which has parking spaces attached to or associated with it prior to 1 January 2015, and you are still the owner as at 1 January 2015, you need to register with the SRO by 21 January 2015 using the Congestion Levy – Registration of an Owner form. For the first year, this form will act as both your registration and annual return.
If you purchase a car park or a property which has parking spaces attached to or associated with that property after 1 January 2015, you need to complete a Congestion Levy – Registration of an Owner form and forward it to the SRO within one month of acquiring the property. As the new owner of the car park, you will be liable for the Congestion Levy assessment issued the year following the change of ownership.
What do I need to do if I sell premises containing a car park? If you sell a car park or a property which has parking spaces attached to or associated with it before 1 January 2015, you do not need to do anything. You are not required to register your details with the SRO.
If you sell a car park or a property which has parking spaces attached to or associated with it on or after 1 January 2015, you need to complete a Congestion Levy – Change of Details form and forward it to the SRO within one month of ceasing to be the owner of the premises.
If you sell the premises during an assessment year, you will still be liable for the levy for that year because you were the owner of the premises as at 1 January of that year. Similarly, if you are the operator of a public car park and cease operating during an assessment year, you will still be jointly and severally liable for the levy with the owner for that year as you were the operator of that car park as at 1 January of that year.
Can I recover the levy from a tenant?
Most standard leases, including the current LIV lease, refer to “levies” in the definition of building outgoings, which will catch the congestion levy. However, we are happy to review your or your client’s leases to see if they allow for recovery.
In practice, you consider whether the owner in negotiations should look to pass on all or part of the levy to the tenant – this needs to be disclosed in the disclosure statement or statement of outgoings.
Unless car spaces form part of the common area, e.g. the car parking at Chadstone Shopping Centre, it is likely that availability for use by any occupier of the property, whether formally by way of lease or informally by licence is sufficient for recovery from a tenant.
(source, in part: SRO website)
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Areas of practice
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This publication is intended to provide commentary and general information only. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is not intended to be a complete or definitive statement of the law on the subject matter covered. Further professional advice should be sought before any action is taken in relation to the matters described in this publication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all jurisdictions.