The Queensland Government has been criticised for not flagging a new downsizing stamp duty incentive ahead of the June 11 State Budget.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Government will commit $5.66bn in the 2019/20 State Budget to help Queenslanders’ household budgets, which is a marginal $76m increase over the 2018/19 commitment.
The assistance will include $192.3m to deliver the electricity rebate to eligible seniors, pensioners, veterans and low-income families. The electricity rebate provides assistance of $341 per year towards electricity costs.
In addition, to help pensioners to live in their own homes, the Pensioner Rate Subsidy Scheme offers a 20% subsidy (up to a maximum of $200 per year) to lessen the impact of local government rates and charges.
Furthermore, the Pensioner Water Waste Subsidy Scheme will provide up to $120 a year for seniors to help pay for water bills.
National Seniors welcomed the government’s decision to retain financial concessions for older Australians, but said that maintaining the status quo simply isn’t enough.
Ian Henschke, National Seniors’ Chief Advocate, said that the struggle to make ends meet is a blight on older age.
“Older Queenslanders make a significant contribution to the Queensland economy and broader society so, while we welcome the maintenance of these rebates and subsidies, we’re disappointed that the upcoming budget hasn’t gone further.
“In reality, unless adequate indexation is applied to electricity, water and rates concessions annually, their real value will decline over time. They must be indexed to keep pace with inflation and the ever-increasing cost of living.”
Noting that Queensland is “out of step” with a number of states and territories which have recognised the need to support downsizing, he called for a seniors’ concession for stamp duty.
“Waiving stamp duty on the sale of houses that sell below $680,500, with the value of the concession declining on a sliding scale up to $895,000 – as is the case in the ACT – would encourage older Australians to move into more suitable and age-friendly homes.
“Our members tell us that they’re reluctant to downsize because of high costs and government charges. Unfortunately, the high cost of stamp duty – along with the cost of moving, the lack of seniors friendly housing options and the impact of surplus funds on pension eligibility – are key disincentives to transitioning to a home that better meets their changing needs and budget.”
In their 2019/20 Budgets, the Victorian and Tasmanian Governments retained existing stamp duty concessions for downsizers.
The Australian Capital Territory also supports a handsome pensioner downsizing stamp duty scheme, along with ongoing reforms to replace stamp duty with a broad-based land tax over the next two decades.
However, Queensland has no such schemes in place.
By Mark Skelsey
This article was originally published on downsizing.com.au