Caravan tax sparks concern for low-income earners, tourism

ABOUT 150 permanent caravan residents in the Gladstone region could be slugged with a goods and services tax (GST) as part of changes being considered by the Australian Tax Office.

The ATO is currently weighing up whether the GST should apply to "moveable home estates", while the GST does not apply to those living in homes or apartments.

Given many low-income earners elect to live in demountable dwellings within caravan parks, the possible new charge has politicians and peak bodies alike warning the Federal Government not to approve the plan.

"I'll be making it clear to the Federal Government that adding GST to the rent paid by families on their permanent caravans in parks is just not on," premier Campbell Newman said.

"This draft plan earmarked by the ATO is quite frankly unfair and the Queensland Government is calling on Joe Hockey to reject the plan immediately to give these people certainty."

Mr Newman also vowed not to accept any extra revenue which may flow to state coffers as a result of the new tax, should it be approved.

It is also feared that residents who choose to remove their home from a park because they disagree with the tax could simply not afford to do so.

Affordable housing provider BHC said while the costs of moving may be high, the tax could force more people onto waiting lists for affordable housing.

"Times are already hard and the cost of living is rising. For many the impost will be unaffordable and either see them homeless or competing with other vulnerable Australians for public and affordable housing," BHC chief executive David Cant said.

The tax will not only affect the vulnerable with Caravanning Australia warning it could put off visitors from visiting Gladstone for more than 27 days, the period of residency allowed before the proposed tax would kick in.

"Many people choose to stay in a caravan park for an extended period of time, a few months usually," a Caravanning Queensland spokesperson said.

"But if this new tax is adopted it may end up putting a few people off from staying longer, and of course the longer people stay the more money they spend in town."

Barbara Strachan says she's concerned the proposed GST will hit hard
Barbara Strachan says she's concerned the proposed GST will hit hard

Tax proposal sparks worries for van park resident

IT'S not herself Barbara Strachan is worried about, it's people like her daughter who live in caravan parks while struggling to get by on a disability pension that she's concerned for.

Not that Strachan herself won't feel the pinch of GST on caravan park rents should the Australian Tax Office choose to go ahead with the proposal.

"My rent is definitely cheaper than a house or an apartment, and I actually own this," Ms Strachan said.

"It's still basically hard living for me to manage on a pension and pay for all the things I need.

"My daughter has her own caravan but she's on a disability pension, and I really think an extra 10% is going to make it harder on her."

Ms Strachan moved into the Gladstone City Caravan Park about 13 years ago, and hasn't looked to move ever since selling her home in Rockhampton.

She said she'd thought about moving on occasion but each time she had looked into the property market, she'd found the rent much too high.

"I have looked elsewhere, but living here the rent is not bad … well, it wasn't," she said.

Ms Strachan said she was mystified when she heard the ATO was considering introducing GST for caravan dwellers.

"They said right from the start when they brought in the GST that they weren't going to do this to caravan parks but it's not good if they're thinking about it," Ms Strachan said.

Have your say by commenting below! What do you think of the proposed tax?