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Tax to impact Benalla community clubs

Benalla sporting and community clubs will be hit hard after a 4.2 per cent gaming tax hike.

KAITLIN THALS January 2, 2014 8:14am

Some Benalla sporting and community clubs will be hit hard after a 4.2 per cent gaming tax hike announced last month.

Benalla Bowls Club chief executive Julie Dosser said the club — which is a licensed electronic gaming venue — would have to hand over an extra $40000 to the Victorian Government as a result of the tax rise.

From April 1, 2014 the Napthine Government’s new tax will mean that the two top tax brackets for hotel and club venue operators will increase by 4.2 per cent.

For hotels, the rates increase from 50.83 and 58.33 per cent to 55.03 and 62.53 per cent. For clubs, the rates increase from 42.5 and 50 per cent to 44.7 and 54.2 per cent.

Ms Dosser said the club would be forced to give its revenue to the government rather than local community groups.

She said this year Benalla Bowls Club provided more than $15000 to local community and sports groups, including Benalla Rose City Band, Benalla Triathlon Club, Capability Building, Goorambat Tennis Club, Rose City Squash and Racquet Ball Assoc., St Joseph’s Primary School, Goorambat Football Netball Club and Benalla Trust Foundation, and also offered support for several other organisations by holding fundraising events.

‘‘Clubs have a proud history of supporting community groups and charities in their local area,’’ Ms Dosser said.

‘‘Unfortunately this will not only affect the viability of community clubs, it will also mean less funding for all sporting groups that clubs fund.

‘‘The state government has shown a complete lack of understanding of how much the local groups in our area rely on the support we provide.’’

However, Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien told the Ensign on Friday that the Auditor-General found the former Labor government sold off gaming machine licences to clubs and pubs for $3billion less than they were worth.

‘‘The former government set tax rates for gaming venues that recouped far less than the intended share of revenue. Without corrective action, gaming venues would benefit at the expense of the state’s schools and hospitals,’’ Mr O’Brien said.

‘‘Clubs with pokies already receive significant tax breaks. Club gaming machines that generate $2666 a month or less pay no tax at all.

‘‘The tax adjustment will ensure that gaming venues pay the share of tax that was intended when the licences were purchased. It also means that our essential state services will continue to be securely funded into the future.’’

Ms Dosser said it was unfortunate that the state government’s need for a ‘‘cash grab’’ would directly affect the community groups and charities that needed the money most.

‘‘This money should be going to our local community groups — not to balance the government’s budget.

‘‘This is a bad tax that is designed to make the government richer at the expense of our local community groups.’’

Victorian Shadow Minister for Gaming Martin Pakula said last month that the tax increase would damage the viability of regional and rural sporting and community clubs across Victoria.

‘‘Denis Napthine’s job-killing tax slug will make many small struggling clubs across Victoria unviable,’’ Mr Pakula said.

‘‘It’s remarkable that rather than being pleased that gambling losses are down, the Napthine Government is disappointed that their tax take isn’t higher, so they’re raising the tax.

‘‘Local clubs, like RSLs, bowls and football clubs, who already battle to stay in operation, will really feel the pinch to their budget bottom line.’’

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