Stamp Duty Could Cede Way to Broad-based Land Tax

Thursday, July 4th, 2013
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A State Parliament Inquiry will be told to employ a broad-based land tax in lieu of the existing stamp duty in order to guarantee the health of government finances.

Advocates of tax reform at the state-level say the introduction of a broad-based land tax will help to ensure that struggling local governments enjoy reliable sources of revenue.

Ross Womersley, executive director of the SA Council of Social Service, will address the State Parliament’s Economic and Finance Committee today, and says major reform of a defective tax system is needed in order to shore up the dwindling income of state governments, which have hit historical lows and could lead to failure to provide essential services.

“Our state tax system is sick and we have to address this if we want to have a healthy funding base for all the services that our community needs – the schools, hospitals, police and support for vulnerable members of our community,” Mr. Womersley said.

“Australia is an economically strong and wealthy nation. However the taxation system that we all rely on is not healthy and is failing us, particularly at the state level.”

“It is not providing the money to fund our essential services and infrastructure, and it is not always efficient or fair.”

State Government dismissed the proposal for a broad-based land tax over a year ago, as a result of political pressure and the perception that it would be a “tax on the family home.”

The faltering condition of state government finances has led to renewed calls for its introduction, however, with the support of business groups who view it as a means of reducing the upfront cost of buying property.

Other reforms that Mr. Womersley has raised for consideration include amendments of current land taxes on rental properties, in order to encourage investment in affordable rental properties, and the introduction of an “unused building tax” on property which is sitting idle.

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