Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Stamp!

Stamp!

A bit of debate around about the abolition of stamp duty in favour of land taxes, which the states will naturally reject. 

The New South Wales Office of State Revenue reported that in December NSW collected was an astronomical $1,215,028,347.

This represents a gargantuan increase of +$500 million or +70 per cent from December 2014.


Transactions will likely be lower for the calendar year 2016 following APRA's crackdown on investor lending. 

However, you can see from the chart above why the states will stand in direct opposition to any such reform. 

Land taxes do already exist in Australia, of course, as do rates, but the family home is what is being suggested for increasing the scope of the tax.

It's a worthy debate, but personally I don't think it will happen. 

Firstly because a tax which lowers the value of what it is actually taxing may be considered somewhat self-defeating. 

Secondly, because, as noted above, the states are utterly addicted to stamp duty like a drug addict to their substance of choice. 

And thirdly, because higher annual land taxes will be a tough sell to the millions of homeowners who have already paid their stamp duties in good faith (land taxes are levied every year and therefore would be a discouragement to home ownership if levies were to be set too high).

The abolition of stamp duties would have the advantage of making purchase prices cheaper, and could encourage labour force mobility.

However, reforms will face a sharp backlash for the reasons noted above. 

Another interesting one to watch unfold, but not expecting to see any major changes.

The AFR explains here why the land tax won't replace stamps - the revenue shortfall would be vast and in turn the costs to average homeowners far too high to be palatable to the electorate.