Grants of $25,000 for NSW first homebuyers slated in widely support property tax reforms

Grants of up to $25,000 to help first homebuyers crack Sydney’s near-impenetrable housing market could be introduced after plans to overhaul the New South Wales property tax system received “widespread support”.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has released the results of public consultation on his government’s proposal, which was part of a suite of reforms aimed at making home ownership more accessible.

The plans would give home buyers in NSW the choice to pay stamp duty or to pay an annual property tax based on their land value and property use.

Once a property is subject to the new land tax, subsequent owners must also pay the tax, phasing out stamp duty over time.

Those who have already paid stamp duty on their property will not be subject to the new land tax on that property.

Existing stamp duty concessions for first homebuyers would be replaced with a grant of up to $25,000.

“There is widespread support for the proposition that NSW should move away from the existing property tax system, characterised by the large ‘upfront’ cost of stamp duty, towards an alternative system that makes home ownership more accessible, supports household mobility, and better facilitates economic growth and prosperity,” said a progress report released by Perrottet.

Perrottet said the government has received more than 250 submissions from industry stakeholders and community figures to date, with public consultation to conclude in late July.

He said first home buyers – who currently pay partial stamp duty on properties priced above $650,000 and full stamp duty above $800,000 – were particularly supportive of a policy change.

For those people, saving for a home deposit amid surging property prices while also saving to pay for stamp duty on higher-value properties – such as houses – was considered unmanageable.

The progress paper also found residents became increasingly comfortable with the land tax proposal as they learned more about it.

“The first round of consultation and submissions showed 84 per cent of people believe stamp duty reform is needed and two thirds of the community said stamp duty was a significant barrier to home ownership,” Perrottet said.

The government argues its proposed reforms would inject $11 billion into the NSW economy over its first four years in money otherwise spent on stamp duty.

According to government figures, an owner-occupier of a home with a land value of $405,600 would pay $1617 in land taxes annually.

However the proposals would require significant Commonwealth assistance in the short term as the NSW government forgoes stamp duty revenue.

Committee for Sydney chief executive Gabriel Metcalf said in a statement that the think tank fully supported the land tax proposal.

Metcalf said the Commonwealth should offer payments to states such as NSW to refill their stamp duty-shorn coffers.

“Our economy and people’s home buying patterns have changed dramatically since the tax was introduced to NSW in 1865,” Metcalf said.

“As we come out of the pandemic, now is the time to reform and bounce back stronger as a state and nation.

“Abolishing stamp duty on property purchases and replacing it with a broad-based annual land tax will be a key part of our bounce back.”