UDIA chief welcomes new land tax debate
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN
The WA chapter of the Urban Development Institute of Australia is reconsidering its opposition to land tax — in return for eliminating stamp duty on property transfers — in a bid to reenergise the State’s lethargic economy.
“I think at the moment everything is up for debate,” UDIA WA president Nick Allingame told The West Australian.
Mr Allingame, who is also a director of property developer Pindan, described stamp duty as a “lazy tax” and pointed out it imposed a significant financial impost on older, aspiring downsizers and on younger, growing families.
“We should be encouraging people to relocate (to WA),” he said. “As a community, it’s a debate we have to have.”
Mr Allingame was referencing a provocative speech by Deloitte Access Economics’ Professor Ian Harper, one of the headline acts at the UDIA’s State conference at Bunker Bay.
Professor Harper told delegates the numbers were stacked against WA in the GST carve-up debate and, in any case, the State’s fiscal mismanagement outlined in John Langoulant’s special report was a “good old homegrown West Australian disaster”.
“You can’t blame the Eastern States for that, my friends,” Professor Harper said. “The good news is you can fix it.”
Professor Harper encouraged the land development industry to campaign for the State Government to scrap stamp duty or transfer taxes and replace them with land tax.
Stamp duty was a tax on people moving to WA — “that’s mad, don’t tax jobs, (people) will leave” — whereas urban developers adding value to WA land would act as a drawcard.
In Victoria, Professor Harper said “they come because there are jobs and there are jobs because they come”, a “self-reinforcing circle”.
Mr Allingame said people had forgotten that stamp duty was meant to be phased out when the GST started in 2000.
He stressed that with a change of that magnitude there would need to be a transition period.
“As a community, we have an ageing population and issues about how to house them,” he said. “We are having discussions about density and TODS (transport-oriented development) and Metronet and this (replacing stamp duty with a land tax) is one of the other things we need to talk about.”
He said stamp duty was a strong disincentive for people to buy small and trade up as their needs changed.