The reinstatement from 1 July of the principal place of residence stamp duty concession – abolished in last year’s state budget – will be strictly enforced as only allowable on transfers arising under contracts entered into from the end of June.

In an email update to members the Queensland Law Society last week warned that “transitional provisions may deny the principal place of residence duty concession to some agreements signed on or after 1 July”.

Lawyers have been counselled to caution clients, in particular about transactions arising from pre-July options or agreements “the sole or main purpose of which was to defer the making of the transfer or agreement until 1 July 2012 or later” to take advantage of the reduction.

Such agreements are specifically excluded from the reinstated concession.

The owner-occupied benefit will also not apply to any contract that replaces another contract entered into before 1 July.

The owner-occupied concessional rate is 1.0% for the first $350,000 with duty at general rates applicable to the remainder of the purchase price or value.

Occupancy requirements specify the buyer/s must occupy the home as their principal place of residence within one year of the transfer. Also, the applicant may lose the concession if they sell or lease any part of the home before moving in or within a year of moving in.

To qualify, the home no longer has to be a first home and it doesn’t matter if it has been previously occupied.

The new law, which is expected to be passed by parliament in the next week, also reinstates and reverts the cut-off for first home duty concession to $550,000 for which no duty is payable. However, for first homes at higher price, the “regular” home owner concessional arrangements, as discussed above, will apply over the entire purchase price.

The changes reinstate the home duty regime that applied before the abolition of the home concession on 1 August 2011.

Queensland agreed to abolish this state tax as part of the GST arrangements, but like other states it reneged on its promise to voters. Stamp duty used to be more pervasive applying even to receipts and more recently, leases.

When created in 1866, treasurer Joshus P Bell remarked that the new duty to be levied upon all property and business transactions was “a magnificent mode of extracting money” and that by the time he “perfected our little arrangements for putting on the screw”, the only things not to be taxed, would be babies.

The more things change, the more – it seems – they stay the same.


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