AN ONGOING dispute with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has led Gosford Classic Cars to shut its doors, less than three years after opening, resulting in the loss of 40 jobs. The $70 million collection is being put up for auction and the premises are to be sold.

Promoted as the Central Coast’s unique automotive dealership specialising in rare cars, the collection of 150 vehicles, will go under the hammer in a predominantly no-reserve auction at the Gosford premises on April 6 and 7.

According to a Gosford Classic Cars statement it consulted leading law firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and received indications from the ATO that the entity and structure met taxation rules. However the dealership has been caught up in protracted discussions as to whether it's entitled to the same exemptions as other motor dealerships.

“The business has always cooperated with the ATO, diligently meeting its taxation obligations in full, and on time. In keeping with that (and despite their strong objection to the ATO’s position) Gosford Classic Cars implemented all interim measures suggested by the ATO, immediately upon the ATO suggesting them,” a statement said.

“As a consequence, the dealership has not been able to market its trading business in the unique way which has made it successful as a dealership in the past. This has resulted in a significant loss in sales revenue, with car sales reducing from up to 59 sales per month to as low as just 5 per month.

“The ATO’s measures were expected to be implemented on a temporary basis. However, 12 months on and more than 2 years since the ATO’s ongoing audit commenced, those measures remain in place.

“Without a conclusive answer from the ATO on why the benefits available to other motor dealerships are not accessible to the our dealership and given the expected lengthy timeframes for resolving disputes via litigation, the dealership cannot continue to sustain these trading losses and has decided to close its doors."

The closure has also put on hold a planned seven-storey building for auto-related businesses, an Australian base for international auction houses, and a call centre.

“In a region where youth unemployment is above the national average, this represents a substantial economic loss for the region and a missed opportunity,” says Gosford Classic Cars manager, Jason Fischer. “The factors that set us apart from most used-car dealerships meant that the business was well loved in the region. This is a major loss for the Central Coast”.