Department of Health

Cemetery trust financial management

Key messages

  • Cemetery trusts must set fees that provide for the perpetual maintenance of the cemeteries they manage
  • Cemetery trusts will need to charge Goods and Services Tax (GST) for certain products and services if they are registered for GST
  • Cemetery trusts that undertake fundraising activities may need register these with Consumer Affairs Victoria
  • Cemetery trusts that sell and supply memorials must comply with the principles of competitive neutrality.

Perpetual maintenance

Under sections 74 and 113 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, the interment of bodily remains in Victoria is for perpetuity (forever).

For this reason, sections 12(2)(a) and 12A(2)(a) of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act require a cemetery trust to set aside perpetual maintenance funds when setting fees for the public cemeteries it is responsible for.

Acceptable standard of maintenance

The standard of maintenance between an operating cemetery and an inactive or closed cemetery may vary.

Cemetery trusts should carefully consider how each cemetery it is responsible for will be maintained once it has reached capacity and is closed to further interments.

Community expectations will play a role in what is an acceptable maintenance standard for an individual cemetery.

Cemetery trust fees

Under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, cemetery trusts must ensure that perpetual maintenance obligations are included when setting fees for the products and services they provide.

Accordingly, all cemetery trust fees and charges should include an appropriate perpetual maintenance component. Perpetual maintenance should not be charged as a separate fee.

As a general guideline, the department recommends that trusts add 15–20 per cent on top of its total costs for products and services (excluding goods and services tax) to meet its perpetual maintenance obligations (for example, total costs $100 + $20 perpetual maintenance = $120).

The suggested percentage in this advice is general guidance and will need to be varied based on the amount of existing funds a trust has already set aside in its perpetual maintenance reserve.

Goods and services tax

Cemetery trusts with an annual turnover from the sale of goods and services above $150,000 must be registered for the GST.

Cemetery trusts with an annual turnover from the sale of goods and services below $150,000 are not required to register for GST, however trusts may choose to register for GST if they wish.

If a cemetery trust is not registered for GST, GST is not applied to any of the trust’s fees.

If a cemetery trust is registered for GST, GST is only applied to the following fees:

  • Interment service fees (including gravedigging, backfilling, grave capping, exhumations).
  • Memorialisation fees (the sale of products such as plaques, granite, urns and other memorials).
  • Administration fees for grave testing and the hire of facilities or equipment.

Note: Gazetted fees are GST inclusive and do not require an additional amount to be added for GST.

Fundraising

Cemetery trusts can undertake fundraising activities, other than lotteries, raffles and bingos, without registering with Consumer Affairs Victoria if they:

  • receive less than $20,000 gross in a financial year from fundraising
  • are not paid for conducting the fundraising
  • use only unpaid volunteers.

If a trust has raised or expects to raise more than $20,000 in a financial year, it will need to register with Consumer Affairs Victoria as a fundraiser operating in Victoria. Registration requires completing an online form and a criminal record and personal insolvency declaration.

Further information is available on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. 

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.

Under section 112 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria 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 the Code of practice page for more information.

Additional financial management information

See the Reports and fact sheets page for additional financial management information, reports and studies. 

Reviewed 20 September 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm

Cemetery Sector Governance Support GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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