The building permit levy audit program of the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has identified more than $334,000 in unpaid building permit levies in 2013-2014.

Building permit levies fund the building control system in Victoria. Anyone applying for a building permit for works costing more than $10,000 must pay a levy before the permit is issued. Building surveyors are required to provide the VBA each month with a report of the building permits issued, along with the levy payments collected by them.

According to Compliance and Performance Director Murray Smith, these audits are regularly conducted to ensure building surveyors comply with their obligations to report and submit building permit levies. The audit identified 685 building permits issued in the 2013-2014 financial year that building surveyors hadn’t reported to the VBA or had reported incorrectly. Levies amounting to $334,746 were not passed on to the VBA, though in many cases, consumers have paid the amount in full to their building surveyor.

Most of the problems discovered during the audits are the result of issues with systems and processes, or genuine mistakes. However, the VBA has an enforcement strategy in place to deal with intentional wrongdoings and recover unpaid levies from the surveyors.

In May a building surveyor paid more than $72,000 in outstanding building permit levies after the VBA took legal action to recover the money he had collected from his clients for building permits. He was also fined $14,436 for non-compliance.