Fairer, simpler and more efficient taxes

Released 05/06/2012

No. 5

The ACT Labor Government is announcing a major reform of the ACT's taxation system, to make taxes fairer, simpler and more efficient, Treasurer Andrew Barr said today.

The ACT Taxation Reform Plan is a suite of major reforms that ensures Canberra's continued prosperity into its second century. The plan supports economic growth, makes housing more affordable, and allows the Government to maintain and enhance the high standard of living our community enjoys.

The benefits of these reforms are economy wide and the Government will continue to provide appropriate and targeted assistance and financial support to those who need it.

The Taxation Reform Plan ensures that:

  • Taxes will be fairer - we are reducing taxes for those on lower incomes.
  • Taxes will be simpler - we are removing some taxes and reforming others. Taxes will be simpler for households to understand, and simpler and easier for businesses to administer.
  • Taxes will be more efficient - we are reducing distortions on household spending and business activity.

Today I am announcing the following reforms:

  • Conveyancing duty (also known as stamp duty) will be abolished. Stamp duty is unfair, and poses a significant extra cost burden on people buying a home. It will be phased out progressively over twenty years. From tomorrow, stamp duty will be decreased, making buying a home cheaper. Stamp duty on a $500,000 home, for example, will fall by $2,450 immediately and by more than $7,000 over five years.
  • Taxes on insurance will be abolished. The current 10 per cent tax on general insurance policies and 5 per cent tax on life insurance will be phased out over five years, starting on 1 October 2012. For average households which insure the savings will eventually reach $171 each year. The abolition of insurance duty will also reduce the cost of insurance premiums for businesses.
  • Payroll tax will be reduced. The threshold at which businesses become liable for payroll tax will rise from $1.5 million to $1.75 million from 1 July 2012. 115 businesses will no longer pay any payroll tax and 1,865 businesses will receive a tax cut.
  • The Home Buyer Concession Scheme will be extended. From tomorrow the income threshold for the Scheme will be extended to $150,000, making more people eligible for a reduction in stamp duty. To boost the construction sector and the supply of new homes, the scheme will only apply to new homes, substantially renovated homes, and vacant blocks of residential land.
  • Land tax will be reduced for landlords who rent out low- and medium-priced properties. From July 1 2012 land tax will be reduced on properties with an Average Unimproved Value (AUV) of between $75,000 and $390,000. This will provide average savings of $208 each year on land tax for about 76 per cent of rental properties.
  • Land tax on commercial properties will be abolished. From July 1 2012 this tax will be shifted to the rates base.
  • Rates will become fairer. Rates will be continue to be calculated in two parts - through a fixed charge paid by all households to cover the provision of basic municipal services, and a series of progressive marginal rates. From 1 July 2012 the fixed charge will be $555, and four rates thresholds will be introduced. Overall, properties with an AUV below $200,000, almost a quarter of properties, will have their rates bill decrease. Rates will increase by $123 on average for Canberra households - or $2.35 a week. This reform puts the revenue base for the Government on a more stable footing and allows for the abolition of insurance duties and the reductions in stamp duty and land tax.
  • Commercial general rates will become fairer. From 1 July 2012 rates will comprise two parts, a fixed charge and progressive thresholds. On average, rates will increase by $1,211, while for commercial properties below the average AUV rates will rise between $11 and $299. However, these increases will be offset by the reduction in insurance and conveyance duty.

These reforms are revenue neutral. Most tax rates will fall, some will rise, and several taxes will be abolished. Households on lower incomes will pay less tax, and there will be concessions for those who may fall outside the scope of tax reform. In particular:

  • The Pensioner Duty Concession Scheme will be expanded. From 1 July 2012 homes valued at up to $570,250 (up from $470,000) will be eligible for full concession. Partial concession will be available on homes valued up to $715,000.
  • The General Rates Rebate for pensioners and concession card holders will be expanded. From 1 July 2012 the cap on the rebate will rise from $481 to $565. Uncapped rebate recipients will continue to receive a 50 per cent rebate on their general rates bill.
  • The eligibility criteria for the Rates Deferral System will be expanded. From 1 July 2012 non-pensioners above 65 years of age, whether working or not, will be able to defer their rates, subject to income and assets tests. This will allow more Canberrans to access the scheme.
  • A Duty Deferral Scheme will remain available during the phasing out of stamp duty. From 1 July 2013 eligible households will be able to amortise the duty for a period of 10 years (an increase from five years), as recommended in the ACT Taxation Review.

Fact sheets and detailed information about the Taxation Reform Plan are available at www.treasury.act.gov.au

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Media Releases

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