Increase in cemetery tax by State Government for new financial year

Kempsey Shire Council

Local Government NSW media release:

Local Government NSW has criticised the State Government for pushing ahead with its controversial “cemeteries tax” as families across the state struggle with the cost of living crisis.

Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW (CCNSW) has confirmed that the new tax of $156 per burial, $63 per ash interment and $41 per cremation will be levied on large operators from 1 July 2024, just under a month away. Large operators are those who carry out more than 50 interments per year. For smaller operators the levy will commence from 1 July 2025.

LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM said the levy was just the latest example of cost-shifting onto local government.

“Across NSW, council cemeteries undertake more than 40 percent of all burials. This rises to more than 80 percent of all burials in rural and regional NSW, so this unnecessary new tax will hit our rural and regional communities the hardest.

“The announcement of this new impost on councils and communities also makes a mockery of the NSW Government’s commitment to seriously consider the impacts of cost shifting, and comes at the same time the NSW parliament is undertaking hearings for its review of local government financial sustainability.”

The State Government announced the levy just before Easter this year, advising that the costs were to fund the increased regulation of the interment industry. At the time, LGNSW called on the Government to fund the regulation from its core budget rather than seek to recoup cost from operators, including local councils. Now, with the imminent implementation of the tax confirmed, the local government sector says the timelines are simply unworkable.

“Our councils will not have time to properly exhibit and approve any fee increase to cover this, as required under the Local Government Act,” Cr Turley said.

“At the same time, we simply cannot absorb this levy into current operational budgets. Whether this year or next, councils will therefore have to pass on the levy to their residents and community members, making interment services more expensive for grieving individuals and families who are going through one of the most challenging circumstances of their lives.

“Quite frankly, the announcement of this levy is premature and ill-considered, with key design and implementation features remaining unresolved.

“Chief among those concerns is that CCNSW still has not provided any information to address the GST treatment queries that councils have raised. Also, there is a significant concern that for pre-need purchased interments already sold by councils, CCNSW advice confirms that the cemetery operator – including councils – is now liable for paying the levy.

“Respectful and affordable interment services are a critical public service provided by local government cemetery operators. LGNSW calls on the Premier to step in and reverse this Government decision to impose a burial and cremation tax on the community, particularly during a cost of living crisis.”

BACK TO ALL NEWS

/Public Release. View in full here.