RTA backflip over Federal Interstate stamp duty


The NSW RTA wrongly tried to apply stamp duty to FIRS. It backed down after a truckie complained

RTA backflip over Federal Interstate stamp duty
RTA backflip over Federal Interstate stamp duty

By Greg Bush |
September 3, 2010

The New South Wales Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) has backed down after attempting to charge a Sydney truck owner stamp duty on two trailers registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS).

John Lawrence, along with his two sons, owns and operates Lawrence Transport out of Austral, in Sydney’s south-west.

Lawrence says on August 16 his wife travelled to the RTA motor registry office in Silverwater to pay registration for two recently-purchased second-hand B-double trailers. The trailers were unregistered at the time.

After paying the necessary costs, Lawrence received the two certificates of registration which outlined a breakdown of the necessary charges.

The amount of "$0.00" was adjacent to the section marked stamp duty.

According to Lawrence, the following morning he received a phone call from the RTA Silverwater office regarding the trailer registrations. The RTA staff member said to Lawrence, "You’ve got to pay stamp duty".

Lawrence was annoyed, but not surprised. He currently has 30 trailers and has registered a large number under FIRS over the years.

However, he says on a few occasions and at different RTA offices the person behind the desk had requested he pay stamp duty but had changed their mind after Lawrence pointed out that stamp duty is not applicable to FIRS vehicles.

This time, however, the Silverwater office was adamant he would be paying $3,000 in stamp duty despite Lawrence pointing out that the RTA website states: "FIRS vehicles are exempt from stamp duty."

"I’ve spoken to quite a few people and no one has ever paid stamp duty on Federal Interstate [Registration Scheme]," Lawrence says.

"How can any state government charge stamp duty on anything that’s not theirs?"

"The funny thing is, when I had a look at the receipt the computer automatically puts stamp duty on and then automatically deducts it."

Lawrence then made a number of phone calls to the Silverwater RTA, as well as the National Transport Commission (NTC).

On one occasion, he recalls the RTA staff member saying, "Our policy changed on August 9".

When he pointed out the RTA website contradicted that, he was told "I’ll have to get in contact with our policy people".

Lawrence says the NTC was also less than helpful and was told it must be "a state administration cost".

On another occasion he recalls an RTA staff member saying, "As of 1993 stamp duty did apply, but we didn’t worry about it".

Owner//Driver
made an enquiry to the RTA on Lawrence’s behalf.

Subsequently, Lawrence says he received a phone call from the manager of the Silverwater RTA branch who said, "there’d been a bit of confusion".

"Because that vehicle was first registered in Victoria as FIRS, you now don’t have to pay it".

Lawrence believes the RTA has "slung me a bit of a story".

"It’s a load of garbage, because usually the states don’t care what happens in another state".

In reply to Owner//Driver’s query, an RTA spokesperson says: "The RTA can confirm that vehicles registered under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) are exempt from stamp duty upon initial purchase and registration."

"In addition, any FIRS registered vehicle that was first registered before 1 July 1995 and then transferred to a NSW registration is exempt from stamp duty as long as the registered operator remains the same.

"The RTA cannot comment on individual cases but if any member of the public has any queries they should contact the RTA on 132 213."

In the meantime, Lawrence says he wonders how many other transport operators have paid stamp duty without question.

"That amount of $3,000 wasn’t going to break me, but if a bloke goes and buys a brand new truck and wants to put it on Federal [Interstate Registration Scheme], he’s up for $20,000 or $30,000 for stamp duty," Lawrence says.

"I think other people have been caught or are going to get caught. NSW is stone broke and are just trying to rip everyone off."

"Every [NSW] transport minister we get is worse than the last one, and it has been for the past 25 to 30 years, because they’re only in the job for 10 minutes.

"They’ve got no idea how the industry works."

Have you been caught out by the RTA or other states trying to charge stamp duty on FIRS? Leave your thoughts below or contact Greg Bush.

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