NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman will consider whether to take action against a Newcastle man over an alleged false statement linked to $17,000 in taxpayer-funded first home buyer benefits.
Andre Madikian was ordered to repay more than $24,000 in benefits and penalties after conceding he rented out a West Wallsend home he bought in 2012, and allegedly falsely stating he lived there in a statutory declaration to the Office of State Revenue.
First home buyer grants and stamp duty concessions require first home buyers to live in their homes for at least six months.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal on August 30 rejected Mr Madikian’s request to waive more than $7000 in penalties after he argued the Office of State Revenue did not fully inform him that penalties were onerous.
Mr Madikian’s “argument is that because he was not told in sufficient detail that there would be consequences for lying to or misleading” the Office of State Revenue, “he could not make an informed decision about whether he should tell the truth or not”, tribunal member Andrew Boxall said.
“Taxpayers must conduct their dealings with the Office of State Revenue with honesty and candour. To do so is not a tactical choice, to be adopted as and when advantageous,” Mr Boxall said.
Mr Madikian’s actions after the Office of State Revenue advised it was investigating him “suggests a pattern of obstructive or misleading behaviour” by him to “impede” the investigation, Mr Boxall said.
Mr Madikian “should in fact consider himself fortunate that the Office of State Revenue did not impose a penalty tax at a higher rate”.
He was ordered to pay $9685 in stamp duty on the West Wallsend home after renting it to tenants for nearly three years after purchasing it, with interest of $3300 and a $2416 penalty.
He was also ordered to repay a $7000 first home buyer grant and a penalty of $2100.
In communications with the Office of State Revenue Mr Madikian said he made a “panicked and in hindsight irresponsible decision about my eligibility” for the first home owners’ grant.
Mr Boxall referred a statutory declaration by Mr Madikian to the Attorney General’s office, after the Office of State Revenue alleged Mr Madikian made false statements in the declaration about living at the West Wallsend house.
Mr Madikian did not respond to a request for comment.