Former JB director in tax stoush over Byron Bay home

A MULTI-MILLION dollar Byron Bay mansion was at the centre of a tax stoush between the former director of tech giant JB-HiFi and the Commissioner of State Revenue this week.

Richard Uechtritz claims he was exempt from paying land taxes on his $4.4 million piece of paradise in 2011 as it was his primary place of residence.

The retired JB-Hi Fi chief and former Seven Network board member challenged a previous ruling that his primary place of residence at the time was in fact a $1.6 million mansion at Sydney's Rose Bay.

The Administrative Decisions Tribunal heard that in the 2011 land tax year, when Mr Uechtritz stated he had moved to Byron Bay, the Rose Bay home remained fully furnished and both he and his wife maintained separate wardrobes inside.

Documents tendered in court stated Mr Uechtritz used the 700 square metre Byron Bay property as a holiday home until moving in December, 2010.

A stand alone apartment out the front was rented out as a holiday rental until November, 2011.

After arriving at Byron Bay he joined the local rotary club and funded charities working with child protection and alcohol and drug rehabilitation in the area and proving recycled bicycles to third world countries.

Although he had relocated to Byron Bay, the court heard Mr Uechtritz travelled regularly to Sydney and "elected to leave his mail addressed to Rose Bay as the bulk of his mail relates to investment, business and bills and requires prompt attention".

It was only when he lodged an objection to the 2011 to the land tax assessment that, upon receiving advice from his accountant, Mr Uechtritz advised ASIC, the electoral commission and the RTA of his change of address.

The CSR argued that in regard to Mr Uechtritz ties to Byron Bay, "there was no evidence of when his membership at the gold club or Rotary had begun...his stays at Rose Bay were not transient as his family and his art collection were there...and the renovations on the Byron house only signified that he was planning to spend more time at Byron Bay because he was retired.

Mr Uechtritz explained he had less room at Byron Bay to hang the paintings and kept a more expensive wardrobe.

He was adamant Byron Bay was his home, pointing out he had only spend 12 days in Sydney in the first six months after making the switch.

Professor G.D Walker found while Mr Uechtritz was frequently away, he always intended to return and for tax purposes, his primary place of residence was in Byron Bay.

Mr Uechtritiz's wife told the tribunal that since making the move she and her husband had welcomed a child who they planned to raise in Byron Bay and send to the local Steiner school.

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