Property industry groups have slammed the New South Wales Government’s decision to introduce a new tax on property transactions, but what impact will it really have on the market?
BY MATTHEW LIDDY
In the shadow of the Federal Budget last week, the NSW Government announced it was introducing a new transaction charge of 0.2 per cent for properties valued at $500,000 and above, or 0.25 per cent above $1 million. The decision to introduce what’s become known as the ‘ad valorem’ levy (ad valorem is Latin for ‘according to value’) brought a furious response from the property industry.
The acting executive director of the Property Council in NSW, Glenn Byres, says the new tax will “hurt homebuyers and hurt the NSW economy” and deliver “a significant hit” to “homebuyers, the residential development market and (the) commercial property market”.
“NSW is barely creeping back from 50-year lows in residential construction levels,” Byres says. ”We can’t afford to strangle progress with a new stealth tax.”
Sal Carrero, chief executive of property accountants Chan & Naylor, says the move will worsen affordability and hurt many prospective homebuyers in one of the most active market segments in the state.
“There are few family homes under the $500,000 threshold, particularly in Sydney, which will penalise families hop
ing to enter the market. This tax hits first homebuyers square in the eyes,” Carrero says.
“It’s also an added burden to property investors, who are likely to pass on the increased cost to renters. Increasing the cost of property to investors may seem like a populist approach but it will hurt the vulnerable as well.”
Urban Taskforce Australia chief executive Aaron Gadiel says the tax is merely a disguised increase in the rate of stamp duty.
“It again sends the message that anyone who invests in NSW will be subject to unpredictable and ever-changing imposts.”
NSW Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell has also chipped in, saying the “unfair” tax would make it even tougher for families looking to buy a home, and potentially impact on jobs if businesses took their investments interstate.
So just how big is this tax slug that’s going to hit homebuyers “square in the eyes” and “strangle progress”?
Well, as it turns out, it would total $170 on the sale of a $585,000 house, which RP Data puts as the current median price in Sydney.
That sounds more like a small pain in the behind rather than a true punch right between the eyes, but perhaps Aaron Gadiel gives a better picture of how the new tax will affect the marketplace.
He points out the levy would be a $23,500 impost on the purchase of a $10 million development site and a $123,500 impost on a $50 million development site.
That seems less like chump change.
Or perhaps the hyperbole over the new property tax is less a case of how much it will cost, and more about, as Wakelin Property Advisory director Monique Wakelin puts it, just how dysfunctional property taxes have become.
“Federal and state governments alike are growing increasingly dependent on taxes raised from property owners and this over-dependence comes at a high cost,” Wakelin writes for the Eureka Report this week.
“Rapidly decreasing housing affordability, a growing shortage of housing for buyers and renters and significant financial penalties for residential property investors are among the chief symptoms of a chronic problem requiring urgent reform.”
Readers – tell us what you think in the comment box below.
How will you, as an investor, homebuyer or developer, respond to this tax? And do you think it will have an impact on the wider market?
Matthew Liddy is the Deputy Editor of Australian Property Investor magazine.