'Netflix of property tax' could replace stamp duty in NSW


New South Wales (NSW) residents could soon be free of compulsory stamp duty, after NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet proposed a move away from it in favour of a land tax.

The proposed changes, announced as part of the 2020-21 state budget and open for public feedback until March next year, would give homeowners the option of either paying stamp duty upfront or paying a smaller annual land tax. The rates would differ depending on whether you're an owner-occupier or investor.

Homeowners would not be double taxed - if you've already paid stamp duty, you won't be up for the land tax.

stamp duty land tax nsw

"This is the single most important economic reform we can tackle to turn the Australian dream into NSW's reality," says Perrottet.

"This is a reform proposal for NSW where more people can own their home and have more freedom to choose the right property for their family at every stage of life.

"This is a vision for every person and family in NSW - from first home buyers trying to get a foot on the property ladder, to frontline workers moving to service our regional communities, and retirees who are ready to downsize."

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Perrottet said first homeowners were spending two and a half years saving for stamp duty compared to a year back in the 1990s.

The rate of stamp duty in NSW is currently 4%. For a first homeowner purchasing a property worth $600,000, they have to pay $24,000 in stamp duty.

"Stamp duty is a tax from a bygone era," Mr Perrottet said.

"This will be like the Netflix of property tax."

The move has the backing of leading economists.

"Stamp duty is a horrible tax because it adds a huge impost to the purchase of a property, adds to poor housing affordability and distorts decisions as to where to spend or invest," says AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver.

"And it leaves states overly dependent on property booms for revenue which then is highly cyclical.

"A land tax levied at a very low rate (to ultimately raise the same revenue as stamp duty) would be far preferable. But the transition should be phased in over time so as not to penalise recent buyers of property."

But will the changes really work to increase affordability?

According to CoreLogic, the discounts provided by incentives that lower the upfront cost of buying property end up being offset by higher levels of demand and thus prices.

"However, prices may be affected by the consideration of an ongoing, annual land tax to be serviced on residential property, which could at least reduce upfront costs," says Eliza Owen from CoreLogic.

"This could incentivise more first home buyers into the property market."

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David Thornton was a journalist at Money from September 2019 to November 2021. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
Brebdan H
November 18, 2020 6.10pm

Why can they not simply abolish the tax?

Surely the costs associated with the reason for this tax are far below the revenue generated. We already pay income tax and then to have to pay these other taxes using already taxed money is a joke. Let's see some value come back our way. Would be nice for Money mag to actually do a case stuffy of a 'normal' income and how much of the gross income ends up in taxes... along the whole list of life spending. I'm convinced that if the average Aussie understood this, there would be a huge realisation of why we really work... to pay taxes and debt.

Stella S
November 19, 2020 10.17am

Well, Brebdan, do you like roads?

Lindy Dunster
November 19, 2020 10.28am

I seem to recall that stamp duty was one of those taxes that was supposed to be abolished with the introduction of GST.

Doug Fowler
November 19, 2020 8.45pm

Yes it was psrt of the promised made to convince the long suffering tax payers of NSW ( and Australia) to accept the GST.I guess it "wasn't a core promise" and so could be ignored. What confidence could there be in another round of promises to remove a tax

Kevin Smith
November 22, 2020 8.48pm

With interest rates so low, why would anyone opt to pay a new tax forever more, rather than borrow and pay it off, then that tax stays with that property, a burden on the next owner forevermore. What happens if someone entitled to nil stamp duty buys a property that has this tax applied?

Instead of taxing everyone more and more, stop being so wasteful with the income the government enjoys, we are a growing nation, surly this can be done through a small increase in GST. Stop wasting money, cut back on defence and social security for a start.