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Elevating integrity and fairness in the NSW Tax System

From 01 February 2024, significant changes apply to land tax and landholder duty. These changes are authorised under the Treasury and Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 (NSW) (‘the Bill’) which was passed and assented to on 21 and 27 September 2023, respectively. The following changes are expected to elevate ‘tax integrity and fairness’ within the State tax system.[1]




Principal Place of Resident (PPR) tax


The State government has tightened land tax exemptions for annual principal place of residence tax (‘PPR Tax’). Land tax is payable where a person uses or occupies the property as their principal place of residence, and where the property exceeds $1,075,000 in value. Prior to the recent changes, a person holding less than 25% interest in a relevant property used and occupied as their principal place of residence would be exempt from PPR Tax. The minimum ownership threshold has now increased to 25% interest which means that a person holding less than 25% interest in a relevant property is no longer exempt from PPR Tax.


Landowners who are eligible to claim for the PPR exemption prior to 31 January 2024 but own less than a 25% interest in the land may continue to claim the exemption until 31 December 2025. The 25% minimum requirement will apply to owners from the 2026 land tax year.


Corporate restructuring tax


Corporate restructuring or consolidating will no longer be entirely exempt from tax[2]. The exemption is replaced with a concession. From 1 February 2024, all relevant transactions will involve a 90% concession in duty, meaning a rate of duty charged at 10% of the duty that would otherwise be payable.[3] If a corporate restructure involves more than one transaction in respect to the same dutiable property, 10% will be charged per transaction.


The concession will not apply to transactions arising from an agreement or arrangement entered into before 19 September 2023 provided that an exemption application is lodged on or before 1 April 2024 and is approved.[4]


Landholder duty


The charging of landholder duty rests on whether a person acquires a ‘significant interest’ in a private unit trust scheme. A ‘significant interest’ previously amounted to 50%. As of 1 February 2024, this will be reduced to 20%, subjecting a wider range of landholders to duty. These changes will apply to all investors, self-managed superannuation funds included, who acquire 20% interest or more in a private unit trust.[5]


The recent changes attach to an additional category of private trusts and/or companies, defined as ‘linked entities’. A ‘linked entity’ is one which is entitled to 20% of another entity’s assets, and where this other entity already attracts landholder duty.[6] This will inevitably expand the number of private landholders obliged to pay duty.


If an acquisition occurs after 1 February 2024 but arose from an agreement or arrangement that was entered into before 19 September 2023, the recent changes will not apply to that acquisition.


The acquisition threshold for unit trusts that are public landholders remains 90%, public landholders include certain listed companies, listed unit trusts and widely held trust schemes.


Wholesale unit trusts


The changes have enacted a return to wholesale unit trust registration provided the following criteria[7] is met:


  1. A ‘significant acquisition’ of 50% must occur;

  2. 80% of investors must be qualified investors;

  3. The holding of 50% or more units must be restricted to qualified investors only. To this end, no qualified investor, either alone or together, may hold 50% or more units;

  4. The unit trust must not have been established for one particular investor; and

  5. The unit trust must comply with all additional requirements.



To view further details or to apply for registration of a wholesale unit trust, visit the Revenue NSW form.


Fixed and nominal duty


Amounts payable for various transactions is set to increase across the board. However, the rises in cost are non-uniform, with some transaction types incurring significantly larger increases than others. The table below illustrates the cost increases in relation to specific transactions that may affect you. [8]

TRANSACTION

PREVIOUS COST

COST FROM 01/02/2024

Declarations of trust over unidentified or non-dutiable property

$500

$750

Transfers and instruments of managed investment schemes

$50

$500

Concessions

$50

$100

Duplicates or counterparts

$10

$20

Key takeaways


In light of the vast changes set to take effect in the coming months, it is critical to be aware of any altered duty obligations and requirements. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the discussed changes might impact you, please contact our people.


Ron Zucker 0410 590 111

Eollyn Cortes 0478 727 395

Sagang Chung 0431 435 333

Julia Zou 0426 670 202


[1] NSW Government Media Release (19 September 2023).

[2] Duties Act 1997 (NSW) ss 273A-273F.

[3] The Bill schedule 1 paragraph 14.

[4] The Bill schedule 1 paragraph 19.

[5] The Bill schedule 1 paragraph 6.

[6] The Bill schedule 1 paragraph 9.

[7] The Bill schedule 1 division 2.

[8] The Bill schedule 1 paragraphs 1-4.

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