Tax discounts urged for WA seniors

By Gerv Tacadena | 18 Nov 2019

The Real Estate Institute for Western Australia (REIWA) is urging the state government to provide stamp duty concessions for seniors looking to downsize.

Western Australia's 65-and-above population is projected to grow by 40% to around 500,000 by 2026, according to a recent report by the Department of Communities and Housing. These seniors could struggle to get a suitable home if the current tax scheme stays in place, said REIWA president Damian Collins.

"While housing affordability impacts everyone, seniors over the age of 65 are especially affected because of their specific housing needs that change over the years, reduced income and limited borrowing capacity," he said.

Also read: WA unveils stamp duty rebates for off-the-plan purchases

Around seven in 10 dwellings in the state have three to four bedrooms, with only 24% of families living in these homes. This could suggest that many are finding it hard to downsize.

"In order to ensure that WA has the right mix of housing options and diversity needed to meet the changing needs of the community, the state government should be looking at ways in which to reduce the impact of stamp duty on the mobility of housing stock," Collins said.

Helping seniors downsize, Collins believes, would make large properties available for growing families and free up properties with bigger blocks for development. It would also allow more housing diversity in the established areas.

In Victoria, pensioners are not charged stamp duty if they purchase a downsized dwelling with a price tag of up to $330,000. The state provides concessions for properties with prices above the limit. Concessions are also available for seniors in Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

"If they are able to put these in place, there's no reason why WA can't do the same. With the 2021 state election fast approaching, the WA government needs to take a leadership role in the matter and look at reducing stamp duty for seniors," Collins said.

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