Tweed clubs welcome jobs certainty

By LEONIE BRANN

JOBS and clubs' support of community groups will be more secure thanks to a new poker machine tax regime agreed to yesterday, a prominent local club manager said.

Despite adding security to the industry, Twin Towns general manager Rob Smith said the signing of the agreement between ClubsNSW and the NSW Government, that will see clubs on the Far North Coast paying an extra $71 million in pokie taxes per year until 2012, was not a cause for celebration.

"This is a resolution we can at least live with," Mr Smith said.

"It's lovely to see that common sense prevailed. But it is disappointing that the extra tax that we will pay for the next two years (until the new regime is enacted) will go straight to Sydney, it won't be spent on the Tweed."

Under the new tax scales for clubs' gaming revenue until 2012, clubs in the Far North Coast will pay 52 per cent extra for pokie taxes, instead of the legislated 87 per cent increase approved by the State Government in 2005.

He said under the new agreement his club, which takes more than $20 million from its poker machines per year, would pay about $12.2 million in pokie tax each year until 2012, up from $8.6 million per year before the existing tax regime was approved.

This means the club will pay an extra $19 million in pokies tax from 2005 to 2012.

Mr Smith said with the new agreement not coming into full affect until 2008, his club, one of the biggest on the Tweed, would need to budget to pay an extra tax bill of $2.5 million per year.

"It (the agreement) is not something that we are celebrating," Mr Smith said.

"The only things this agreement will bring for local clubs is a more certain future, even though we will still pay extra than we did before the changes - now we can better plan our businesses into the future."

Meanwhile, the Seagulls Club will pay an extra $11.5 million in pokie taxes for that period.

Smaller clubs, taking less than $1 million from poker machines per year, will be the big winners under the new tax scales for poker machine revenue in clubs between 2006-07 and 2011-12.

Under the new agreement most smaller clubs will pay no poker machine tax at all, which is a major adjustment from the tax hikes originally approved by the Labour government that may have seen some clubs forced to close.

The agreement will increase the zero-tax threshold from $200,000 to $1 million effective from September 2007.

It also provides that from September 2008, the rate of poker machine tax for clubs in all other revenue categories, will be lower than under the current tax scales. This means clubs that take more than $20 million from the pokies will now pay 30.9 per cent tax instead of 40 per cent by 2011.

Clubs that take between $10 and $20 million will be taxed at 29 per cent instead of 40 per cent by 2011.

While the maximum tax rate for clubs taking between $5 and $10 million will drop from 35 per cent to 26 per cent.

The rate for clubs taking $1-$5 million from pokies will now pay 21 per cent tax instead of the top rate of 25 per cent under the existing scale.

Member for Tweed Neville Newell welcomed the new deal.

"It is a fair and responsible agreement that provides tax relief for clubs in the future years without compromising our ability to expand essential services like health, education, policing and transport."



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