Stamp duty reform will take decades

Noel Towell May 07, 2012

The ACT's "fundamentally unfair" stamp duty regime is to be reformed, the ACT Government says, but the process could take decades.

Treasurer Andrew Barr said this morning that the government had accepted a key recommendation of the long-awaited Quinlan review of taxation that the transaction tax was inequitable and should be abolished.

Mr Barr said the review would form the foundation of a historic agenda for reform of the government's revenue-raising efforts that would be based on "fairness, efficiency and simplicity."

There are also recommendations to abolish duties on general insurance and life insurance, to retain payroll tax in some form and to adopt a broad-based land tax to replace the revenues forgone from the reforms.

But launching the review of the report this morning, Mr Barr said that reform would be a long process.

"It (stamp duty) is a considerable part of our own-source revenue, about $300 million or thereabouts, so the transition in any one year, onto the rates base for example would effectively require a doubling of everyone's rates," the minister said.

"That would be very unfair to anyone who has just paid stamp duty so I don't believe that it would be appropriate to make that transition in any one year and I accept the recommendations of the review that it should be a 10 to 20 year process.

"The question of course, is making a start and so the government’s view is something that we should pursue and looking at those principles that I referred to in terms of fairness, efficiency and simplicity."

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