Split on new marriage tax

CIVIL marriage celebrants are up in arms over plans by the Federal Government to charge them a fee of up to $600 a year to carry out their business.

Bundaberg celebrant Pat Slee said it was discriminatory because it would only apply to civil celebrants and not their religious counterparts.

The fee, which is due to come in next year, was announced in the Government's Budget this year.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the department was holding consultation meetings around the country to decide on the size of the new fee.

But Mr Slee said the government was double-dipping on tax for marriage celebrants.

"We already pay our taxes to run the Attorney-General's department," he said.

"Then they want us to pay this extra tax to help run the department.

"I suppose it's called creative taxing."

Mr Slee said he was mostly annoyed because religious celebrants, who were regulated by the State Government, would not have to pay the fee.

"At the moment, 60% of people getting married use civil celebrants because they don't want to get married in a religious ceremony," he said.

"Now they're going to be hit with this extra cost for the service."

He said a legal marriage in Australia was the same, no matter who performed the ceremony.

"This gives religious celebrants a distinct advantage beyond what they already have, as they are not required to pay the fee," he said.

Mr Slee said most celebrants averaged about seven weddings a year, which could mean a cost increase of almost $100 a couple.

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