Stamp duty just a 'cash grab'

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The Property Council of Australia (PCA) has joined the debate over taxes on real estate, labelling stamp duty as a “cash grab” damaging the Nation’s economy.

The PCA claims stamp duty costs across Australia’s capital cities have risen by 527% to 795% percent over the last 20 years.

According to the PCA, the true cost of stamp duty over the life of an average mortgage is now $61,542 in Sydney, $56,616 in Melbourne, $14,733 in Brisbane, $21,564 in Hobart, $33,654 in Perth, $35,427 in Canberra, $30,393 in Adelaide and $49,701 in Darwin.

PCA chief executive Ken Morrison described the increases as “scandalous” and said governments across the country should be focussed on removing stamp duty.

“Stamp duty has to go, it is our worst, most inefficient tax,” Morrison said.

"Getting rid of stamp duty needs to be a top priority of national tax reform and every government in the country.”

Morrison said the PCA has put together a submission for the Federal Government’s  tax white paper reform process which recommends stamp duty be replaced with a different revenue stream .

“Stamp duty has become a run-away cash grab that’s hurting Australia’s economy and locking out potential homebuyers,” Morrison said. 

“Taxes are supposed to lean lightly on the economy, not act as a barrier to economic activity, job creation and prosperity, but that is exactly what stamp duty does.” 

Chief executive officer of Multifocus Properties and Finance, Philippe Brach agreed with the PCA’s stance and believes changes to the GST would be the best way for governments to replace the revenue currently generated through stamp duty.

“I support the idea of abolishing stamp duty, but I don’t think any new taxes should be I implemented, I would move to increase or expand the GST, in my opinion that’s the only way to do it,” Brach said.

“The ACT have a land tax, but I don’t think that’s the way to go, it hits everybody, if you have someone who has lived in one place for 50 years without a transaction it’s not fair that they should have to pay that tax.”

The PCA’s calls for stamp duty to be scrapped come after the issue of affordable housing dominated headlines last week, with the Labor Party and Greens signalling negative gearing should either be scrapped or only apply to new homes.

Those ideas don’t gain any support from Brach, who pointed to the last time the scheme was altered.

“Changing negative gearing would be a complete disaster.

“You only need to look at what happened when the Hawke Government changed it, the economy collapsed and in 18 months they admitted they made a mistake and undid the changes.

“When a politician admits they did the wrong thing then that’s all you really need to know.”

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