Fire Levy Revisited

Article published 25 January 2018

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NSW Upper House Inquiry

Tax experts agree that taxing land is a great way of raising tax, because land can’t go anywhere.

You can’t put a block of land in a numbered Swiss bank account.

But from a social equity point of view, taxing land is unfair because many cash-poor owner-occupier households, young and old, would not be able to afford to pay.

The Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) was calculated on the basis of unimproved land value. There was a public outcry and the Government ditched the FESL. However, a NSW Upper House Inquiry is now looking into what was wrong with the FESL and how it could be improved.

The Inquiry is looking into what would be a fair way of raising money to fund fire and emergency services in New South Wales.

In its submission to the Inquiry, CPSA has suggested that the FESL could be replaced with a separate insurance policy taken out by households to cover them for the cost of any fire and emergency services they may need. It is very similar to the way ambulances in NSW are funded, where people have to take out insurance or run the risk of having to pay the full cost of using an ambulance should they need one.

NSW ambulances are free for pensioners and other concession card holders. CPSA has argued that fire and emergency services should likewise be free for pensioners and other concession card holders.

Few pensioners would argue with that.

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