The West

Move to axe stamp duty

Treasurer Mike Nahan will consider alternatives to stamp duty after conceding it was one of the nation's least efficient taxes.

A spokesman for Dr Nahan said the State Government would look at options for change during consultations for the Federal White Paper on tax reform.

The real estate sector welcomed the comment yesterday as the most promising indication yet of a change to the contentious tax, which costs buyers $20,000 on a median $545,000 home.

"The Government recognises that stamp duty on property transactions is one of the least efficient taxes in the country and is keen to actively engage in the Commonwealth Government's White Paper processes on national tax reform and reform of the Federation," the spokesman said.

"(This includes) looking at options to reform State taxes and provide the States with more sustainable and efficient sources of revenue."

State governments have traditionally been reluctant to adjust stamp duty because it is a major source of income.

But stamp duty collections have been weak in the past year, with the housing market delivering lower-than-expected revenue.

The WA Economic Regulation Authority is among those advocating sweeping reforms.

It called recently on the State to broaden the base and lower the rate of residential stamp duty and land tax.

Mr Nahan recently met the Real Estate Institute of WA over its proposal to abolish stamp duty in favour of a broad property tax, but it is understood the Government has not investigated a specific proposal.

REIWA president David Airey welcomed Dr Nahan's comments, claiming it was the most promising sign of change. He said the tax was prohibitively high for some potential buyers and led to market stagnation.

Mr Airey said the institute had not investigated the proposal in depth but hoped to start debate on the issue.

"A broad property tax review is long overdue and must be considered, given the introduction of GST should have led to the abolition of stamp duty and other State taxes," he said.

The West Australian

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