06 Aug 12 Student accommodation was not input taxed - ECC Southbank
The Federal Court (Nicholas J) has held that 4 supplies of premises at Urbanest Southbank in Brisbane, Queensland, were supplies of "commercial residential premises” or accommodation in “commercial residential premises” and were thus a taxable supply under s 9-5 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth) (the GST Act).
The Commissioner's contention that each of the 4 supplies was a supply of “residential premises” but that none was for the supply of “commercial residential premises” or accommodation in “commercial residential premises” was rejected.
The Urbanest premises provide accommodation to students from several educational institutions, mostly Southbank Institute of Technology but also Bond University, Central Queensland University, Griffith University, James Cook University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland and others. The accommodation in the Urbanest premises is also available to persons other than students. In January 2011 several attendees at the Linux software conference held in Brisbane stayed at the Urbanest premises.
After examining the agreements entered into and the facilities provided to occupants, the Court held that the premises were either a "hostel", or similar to a "hostel" as required by the definition of "commercial residential premises" in s 195-1 of the GST Act, and were therefore "commercial residential purposes" for the purposes of the GST Act. Accordingly, the 4 supplies were not input taxed and were thus taxable supplies falling within the exception to s 40-35(1)(a) of the GST Act.
ECC Southbank Pty Ltd as trustee for Nest Southbank Unit Trust v FCT  FCA 795 (Federal Court, Nicholas J, 31 July 2012).