A guide to stamp duty – and how it’s changing
In many ways, stamp duty is the sting in the tail for homebuyers. A house is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make – and then we learn we have to pay that little bit more. So, any relief is keenly anticipated.
This year, as house prices in some states hit record highs and in other parts of the country slumped, governments acted. In most cases they cut stamp duty, particularly for first-time homebuyers.
Stamp duty makes a lot of money for state governments – it is the second largest source of state and local government direct revenue, generating approximately 22 per cent of direct revenue. This amounts to as much as $19 billion nationally each year, according to The Grattan Institute.
How much you’ll pay
Stamp duty is one of the largest upfront charges associated with buying a home. All buyers have to consider the extra duties and taxes they will face – on top of the actual settlement.
The average house price in Australia is almost $657,000, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. But this varies significantly – NSW has the highest prices (the average is $865,000), followed by Victoria ($690,000), the ACT ($643,000) and Western Australia ($536,000). Tasmania's housing is the most affordable in the country, with an average price of $343,900.
A 20 per cent deposit for a house priced at the Australian average is $131,000. However, the upfront price can be closer to $170,000 – depending on where you live – once stamp duty and other costs are added.
A government levy on the sale or transfer of land
In most states and territories, stamp duty is levied on the sale or transfer of land. Stamp duty must be paid so you can be registered as the owner on the Certificate of Title. You will typically be required to pay stamp duty on the property within 30 days of settlement.
All states have progressive rate scales. This means the marginal rate of stamp duty will increase according to the value of the property. Each state and territory will apply different rates and marginal rate thresholds.
Stamp duty may also vary depending on the type of property purchased. For example, different rates apply to residential and commercial property. And, for residential property, the charges may differ if you intend on living in the property or are an investor. They may vary depending on whether the property is new or if you are only purchasing land. There are also a range of exemptions, such as concessions for first-time homebuyers, and property purchased in regional areas. Again, this will vary in different states.
The changes, state by state
These are the upcoming or recently introduced changes to stamp duty for residential properties, as outlined in state and territory budgets for the 2017-18 financial year.
New South Wales
Stamp duty concessions for first home buyers will apply to both new and established homes from July 2017. For these people, stamp duty will be abolished on all houses and apartments up to $650,000 (up from $550,000 previously). There are also discounts for first home buyers for properties between $650,000 and $800,000.
If you are buying a residence off the plan, and will live there as an owner-occupier, you can also apply to pay it up to 12 months after you purchase.
Stamp duty charged on lenders' mortgage insurance has been scrapped for first home buyers with limited deposits.
But foreign buyers are being slugged - the stamp duty surcharge for them doubles to eight per cent.
Off-the plan stamp duty discounts of up to $15,500 have been extended until June 2018.
The Government will introduce a four per cent surcharge for foreign buyers of residential property from January 2018.
Stamp duty will only have to be paid on the value of the land for eligible house and land packages from May 14, 2017. Buyers could save about $7,500 on stamp duty on the average cost of a standard 'off the plan' house and land purchase.
The First Home Buyers Stamp Duty Rebate continues to apply on both existing homes and new homes that are valued at less than $550,000. It is worth up to $8,750.
Stamp duty will be abolished completely for first home buyers purchasing a property valued below $600,000 from July 2017.
Discounts will also be available for property purchases between $600,000 and $750,000, regardless of whether they are new or established homes. So, the first home buyer of a dwelling costing $605,000 will see their stamp duty bill drop from $31,000 to a little over $1,000.
First home buyers purchasing properties valued up to $430,000, or land valued up to $300,000, will not be required to pay stamp duty. They will pay a reduced amount of duty for homes valued up to $530,000 or vacant land valued up to $400,000.
Australian Capital Territory
There is some stamp duty relief for buyers of new property. In these cases, for the average price of a home in the ACT, stamp duty will be cut by nearly $1,000 to almost $19,700.
The ACT Government has announced plans to phase out stamp duty on house sales by 2022, replacing the revenue with higher rates. Until then, over the next five years, the amount of duty will continue to fall modestly.
The stamp duty on properties – including commercial properties – valued between $3m and $5m will increase to 5.75 per cent and properties valued at more than $5m will see stamp duty increased to 5.95 per cent.
From July 2017, pensioners and carers who are eligible for an NT Pensioner and Carer Concession Card at the time they purchase their home will be able to receive a stamp duty concession of up to $10,000 once they receive their concession card.
How much stamp duty will I pay?
Use the Stamp Duty Calculator on the HSBC website to work out approximately how much you will need to pay in government costs, and how much you may receive in government concessions. You can also access links to the various state/territory revenue office websites for further information.
This article doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consult appropriate professionals or experts before making any financial decisions. This article’s content or any copy of it cannot be altered in any way, transmitted, copied or distributed to any other party, without the prior written permission from HSBC. Issued by HSBC Bank Australia Limited ABN 48 006 434 162 AFSL 232595.
Stamp duty and transfer taxes can change as each State introduces new budgets. You can reference the latest data on the respective state/territory revenue office websites:
New South Wales: <http://www.revenue.nsw.gov.au/taxes/transfer-land>
Northern Territory: <http://www.treasury.nt.gov.au/TaxesRoyaltiesAndGrants/StampDuty/Pages/default.aspx>
South Australia: <http://www.revenuesa.sa.gov.au/taxes-and-duties/stamp-duties>
Western Australia: <http://www.finance.wa.gov.au/cms/State_Revenue/Duties/Transfer_Duty.aspx>