Money: $12.8 million tax driving investors to ditch Queensland homes - PressFrom - Australia
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Money$12.8 million tax driving investors to ditch Queensland homes

09:25  15 april  2019
09:25  15 april  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Australians living abroad are ditching their Queensland investment properties after being stung by a tax targeted at foreigners and "absent" land owners raking in more than $ 12 million . In the 2017-18 budget, the state government introduced a 1.5 per cent land tax surcharge on absentee land

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$12.8 million tax driving investors to ditch Queensland homes© Supplied Brisbane man Craig Smith, now working in Fiji, said he was not informed of the absentee surcharge before it came into effect.

Australians living abroad are ditching their Queensland investment properties after being stung by a tax targeted at foreigners and "absent" land owners raking in more than $12 million.

In the 2017-18 budget, the state government introduced a 1.5 per cent land tax surcharge on absentee land taxpayers if the value of their taxable land was $350,000 or higher.

Brisbane man Craig Smith, who moved to Fiji to work as an IT consultant in 2010, has put one of his two properties on the market after being slugged more than $10,000 via the absentee land tax, and was considering investing elsewhere in Australia or overseas.

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Mr Smith said he was not told about the surcharge before it came into effect, meaning he did not have a chance to avoid it by selling early, describing it as a "tax grab" on soft targets.

"As Australian citizens living overseas, we still pay all relevant taxes every year in Australia that relate to our investments," he said.

"However, we do not use any of the infrastructure – roads, health, education etc – as we reside overseas and are taxed in other national jurisdictions."

Mr Smith said his extended family still lived in Brisbane and he visited four times a year.

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Land tax is imposed on the owners of freehold land in Queensland .

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The absentee surcharge applies to owners of land in Queensland who do not ordinarily live in Australia, including a person who is absent from the country at June 30 or who have been absent for more than six months.

There were 2150 land owners liable for the absentee surcharge for 2017-18, bolstering government coffers by $12.8 million.

When the tax was introduced, then treasurer Curtis Pitt said the measure – under the headline "foreign land owners" in his budget speech – would ensure "absentee owners of land are making a fair contribution and it has no direct impact on Queensland residents".

Treasurer Jackie Trad said the tax was used to provide the high-quality services and infrastructure that made Queensland a better place to live and own property.

"It has been Queensland's longstanding position that people who live overseas and own property in Queensland are subject to higher rates of land tax to account for the fact that they are not subject to the range of taxes paid by residents," she said.

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$12.8 million tax driving investors to ditch Queensland homes© Arsineh Houspian Queensland property owners living or holidaying abroad are considering selling after being hit with an absentee land owners tax.

But Greg Fogarty, who was transferred to the US for work in 2007, said he paid tax on rental income, GST on services and council rates.

"My land tax went from around $6500 a year to nearly $16,000 a year in one fell swoop. This is outrageous," he said.

"I worked for 40 years in Australia and always paid my taxes.

"The house in Brisbane was my primary residence for 18 years before I moved to the US and I plan on it being my primary residence when I return."

Mr Fogarty said he was struggling to justify keeping his Brisbane house.

"Unfortunately, many people I know have sold their Brisbane homes because the land tax is financially ruining," he said.

Tyson Lehn, a self-funded retiree and Australian citizen, moved to Thailand to save money but was instead living in Broadbeach in a so-far-unsuccessful attempt to avoid the tax.

"I am unemployed and the rent from my investment is what I need to use to live off," he said.

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"Why weren't investors warned about the absentee surcharge coming into effect before the budget to give people like me the opportunity to not buy in Queensland?"

According to an answer given to an LNP question on notice in the Queensland Parliament, the Gold Coast had the most land owners affected, followed by Brisbane inner-city.

Property Council of Australia Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said Australians living, working or holidaying overseas were being punished for holding on to their family home or other property investments.

"This isn't a tax on vacant properties or a tax on foreign owners, it's a tax that is hitting ordinary Queenslanders whose circumstances have seen them spend some time abroad," he said.

"The Office of State Revenue has a complex definition of 'absentee' but it can capture Australian citizens who have been overseas for just six months."

Shadow Treasurer Tim Mander was scathing.

"It's disgraceful that Queenslanders working overseas and providing rental properties are being slugged with this Labor tax," he said.

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