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Thursday, 4 May 2017

NSW stamp duty receipts rebound to near-record levels

Stamp duties boom

New South Wales stamp duty and land transfer receipts rose to above $9.5 billion over the year to March 2017, according to the Office for State Revenue (OSR). 

The rolling annual number of transactions is down from previous heights, but has recently rebounded with so many apartments being constructed. 

A heady combination of record supply and record high prices is proving to be a truly massive windfall for the state government coffers. 

The spike in November was revised up to notch record monthly receipts of $1.83 billion - there had been a change in purchase duties for non-residents in addition to the $16 billion Ausgrid sale.

The NSW state budget surged into a massive $4.7 billion surplus in 2015-16 on the back of this boom.

This result was well ahead of forecasts and left the state government with net debt of less than zero, putting the state government moved into a cash positive position for the first time ever.  

To complete the virtuous circle, billions of these funds need to be rolled into urgently required infrastructure projects, not least to plug the hole in the economy that will be left by declining housing construction from 2018 forth.

More taxes

There have been many calls for a land tax to replace stamp duty over time, though there is a risk that this actually increases borrowing power and has other unintended affects. 

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is experimenting with replacing stamp duty with a land tax, and has seen the vacancy rate for houses in Canberra drop to just 0.6 per cent, while rents are rising faster than in any other capital city, up by 7.5 per cent in 2016.

While this may be because investors have elected to look elsewhere to avoid the annual land tax payments, but the sample of data to date is too small to draw strong conclusions.