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Foreign buyer tax ‘playing on xenophobia’

The NSW government’s stamp duty increase for foreign buyers is a greed-driven decision that is making scapegoats of non-Australian residents, according to a real estate veteran.

Principal of Sydney agency Gunning and former president of the Real Estate Institute of NSW, Malcolm Gunning, says the state government’s 4 per cent stamp duty surcharge on residential property for foreign buyers should be recognised for what it is – pure greed.

“It is important to recognise that this is just a grab for cash from the government and a cop out,” Mr Gunning said.

“The government has found a scapegoat in foreign investors and is playing on xenophobia.

“They are choosing to single out Chinese investors when the real reason house prices are being pushed up is self-funded retirees who are purchasing properties for their super funds.”

Mr Gunning said foreign investors play a vital role in the strength of Australia’s construction industry and should be viewed as a valuable contributor to the economy.

The surcharge came into effect on 21 June 2016, with the NSW government also announcing a 0.75 per cent land tax surcharge for foreign owners from 2017.

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Foreign investors have also lost the ability to defer stamp duty payments for off-the-plan purchases for 12 months, as well as the tax-free threshold for the land tax surcharge.

The NSW surcharge comes after the Victorian government increased the stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers from 3 per cent to 7 per cent, while the Queensland government said foreign buyers will incur an additional 3 per cent surcharge.

[Related: Govt attacked over 'knee-jerk reaction' to foreign buyers]

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