Cemetery trusts – perpetual maintenance
Under ss. 74 and 113 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (the Act), the interment of bodily remains in Victoria is for perpetuity. For this reason, ss. 12(2)(a) and 12A(2)(a) of the Act requires a trust, in exercising its functions under the Act, to have regard to its obligations in relation to funding the perpetual maintenance of the public cemetery for which it is responsible.
Trusts should give careful consideration to how each cemetery it is responsible for will be maintained once full capacity has been reached. The fees that the trust sets for its products and services should take account of this ongoing perpetual maintenance obligation.
Under s. 74 of the Act:
- interment of human remains is perpetual
- interment of cremated remains to be either perpetual or for a tenure of 25 years.
Care should be taken by the trust to fully document the conditions of tenure for its cremation memorials. This should include obtaining the applicant’s signature on a copy of the conditions before the tenure commences.
Acceptable standard of maintenance
A cemetery trust should consider the standard of maintenance acceptable in a cemetery that has reached capacity and is closed to further interments. The standard of maintenance between an operating cemetery and a closed cemetery may vary, and this difference should be taken into account when trusts set their fees and charges. Community expectations will also play a role in the maintenance standards set for closed cemeteries.
Cemetery trust fees
Under the Act, when setting fees, trusts must have regard to the costs of operating and managing the public cemetery, and the need to provide for maintenance (for example, roads, paths, gardens, fences, buildings, water, security, park establishment and replacement) of the public cemetery in perpetuity.
All cemetery trust fees should include an appropriate perpetual maintenance component and perpetual maintenance should not be charged as a separate fee. In the future, the department will be working to determine and cost minimum maintenance standards that will assist trusts in identifying appropriate perpetual maintenance charges to be incorporated in their fees.
As a general guideline, the department recommends that 15–20 per cent of total costs associated with service provision should be included in the trust’s fee submission to contribute to costs associated with perpetual maintenance obligations.
Cemetery trusts – goods and services tax
Your trust will need to charge goods and services tax (GST) for its goods and services other than those listed under the 2011 determination in Table 1 if it:
- has annual turnover (from sales of goods and services) above $150,000
- is registered for GST, regardless of turnover.
Under the Goods & Services Tax Act 1999 (A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) (Exempt Taxes, Fees and Charges) Determination 2011 (No. 1)), the fees in Table 1 are exempt from GST.
Table 1: Cemeteries and crematoria fees that are exempt from the goods and services tax
Any products and services not covered by the items listed in Table 1 will attract GST. This will include fees for services such as gravedigging, exhumations and the sale of products such as plaques, granite, urns and other memorials.
Cemetery trusts – fundraising
Cemetery trusts are able to undertake fundraising activities, other than lotteries, raffles and bingos, without registering with Consumer Affairs Victoria if they do not expect to raise more than $10,000 in any financial year, subject to the conditions stated in the Fundraising Act 1998. If they have raised or expect to raise more than $10,000 in a financial year, they will need to register with Consumer Affairs Victoria as a fundraiser operating in Victoria.
Cemetery trusts do not qualify for an exemption for registering as a fundraiser in Victoria, as they are not established under the Health Act 1958.
For information on fundraising activities visit the ‘Fundraising’ section of the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
If you have any further questions please contact Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Cemetery trusts – competitive neutrality
Competitive neutrality is about ensuring that publicly owned entities such as cemetery trusts compete fairly in the marketplace with private suppliers of the same products and services.
Further information regarding competitive neutrality policy is available on the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission’s website.
Competitive neutrality and cemetery trusts
Under s. 112 of the Act, cemetery trusts may sell and supply memorials. Any cemetery trust that engages in these activities must ensure that they are informed about and comply with the principles of competitive neutrality to encourage a fair and equitable environment for the sale and supply of memorialisation goods and services.
See ‘Memorials code of practice’ for more information.