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NSW needs stamp duty reform

Media release

NSW needs stamp duty reform

Media release
“Stamp duty reform was rightly one of the most important topics in the 2023 NSW election. Reform of stamp duty in NSW will lead to improved economic and social outcomes,” said David Bare, HIA Executive Director – NSW.

HIA’s Stamp Duty Watch report, released today, reviews the latest developments around stamp duty across Australia’s eight states and territories. Stamp Duty Watch is a comprehensive regular review of policies in the states and territories around Australia. 

“A move to abolish stamp duty is the right step for NSW. 

“The Government has become financially dependent on a tax that is very inefficient and inequitable. It taxes households that move to seek employment and education opportunities. It forces people to stay in homes that no longer meet their needs and it is an unreliable source of revenue.  

“Stamp duty is universally recognised as one of the most inefficient and inequitable taxes that does not provide a stable revenue stream.

“The NSW Labor Party’s policy to abolish stamp duty for first home buyers on homes under $800,000 is a step in the right direction.

“These thresholds will of course be quickly eroded by bracket creep unless there is more fundamental tax reform.

“The punitive rates of stamp duty that are imposed on foreign investors is also a key reason why there is an insufficient supply of new homes commencing construction in Sydney.

“We estimate that an overseas investor looking to purchase a property in Sydney – by far the largest market – must pay $150,000 in stamp duty, land tax and Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) fees, around three-quarters of which is solely through foreign surcharges.

“There are numerous strategies that can be pursued to abolish stamp duty including the phased in approach, being adopted in the ACT, or an ‘opt in’ arrangement that is proposed in NSW. 

“The key is to begin the process of removing stamp duty. The end justifies the means.

“A constant state of paralysis has resulted in a cascading of tax problems as the NSW governments has become increasingly dependent on stamp duty for revenue. 

“As with all sound economic reforms, the benefits of the reform ensure that households disadvantaged from the change can be compensated. 

“The case in favour of reforming stamp duty is so strong that it doesn’t matter which of these options is adopted, as long as stamp duty is abolished.

“Penalising households for pursuing home ownership does not lead to good economic or social outcomes.

“The efficiency benefits of the removal of stamp are extensive. A workforce able to relocate in the pursuit of education and employment opportunities, without incurring punitive taxes, supports a range of family and community goals.

“Households able to move to a home that suits the size of the family and the location of their employment and studies can lead to a more efficient allocation of public investment in transport infrastructure.

“It allows an ageing population to shift closer to family and medical support leading to a more efficient allocation of land and health care resources.

“A switch away from stamp duty also offers a better use of land as it penalises low value use of land in areas with high land values,” concluded Mr Bare.

For more information please contact:

David Bare

Executive Director - NSW

Tim Reardon

Chief Economist
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