When purchasing a house you will most likely have to pay a tax called stamp duty. Find out more about this tax and if exemptions apply to you.
Stamp duty is payable on nearly all home purchases. It is a tax on the sale of property and shares and covers the costs of changing the title of the property and ownership details. By knowing how much you will have to pay in stamp duty, you can better plan for the expenditure of finalising the purchase of your home.
The amount of stamp duty you pay is determined by the state or territory that you live in, the amount you pay for the home and the type of property that you are buying. Depending on your personal circumstances you may qualify for an exemption on stamp duty.
Use the calculator below to determine your stamp duty costs.
How much stamp duty will I have to pay?
The amount of government stamp duty that you will have to pay depends on a number of factors. These are :
- What state or territory you live in. Some states will charge more stamp duty than others, but most will be around the same amount.
- The cost of the property. One of the major factors that will affect the amount of stamp duty that you pay will be the cost of the home that you bought. Generally, if you buy a home that is worth more than $500,000 you will have to pay a significant amount of stamp duty.
- The type of home you buy. The amount of stamp duty that you will be charged will be different depending on the type of home you buy. A vacant property will have less stamp duty charged to it when compared to buying a home.
Use the finder.com.au calculator above to help you work out how much exactly you need to pay.
How is stamp duty calculated?
Each state and territory set the rates at which they charge stamp duty as well as how they are calculated:
- NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australian. Stamp duty is calculated based on the greater amount between the price paid for the property and the market or unencumbered value of the property. Example: if your property is judged to be worth $450,000 but you paid $475,000, your stamp duty is calculated based on the $475,000 purchase price.
- ACT. In the ACT stamp duty is also based on the greater amount between the purchase price or the market value of the property. This is the total amount of the house and land when the land already has a property on it or when the buyer has purchased a house and land package where the property will be built on the land purchase before settlement. If you purchase land and then build on it at a separate time you will only be charged stamp duty on the land value or purchase price.
- South Australia. Stamp duty is calculated based on either the value of the land including improvements or the price paid for the property including GST, whichever is greater.
How can I minimise my stamp duty costs?
Stamp duty is a big expense. But there are steps you can take to avoid paying stamp duty or at least significantly decrease the amount you pay.
- Lower your costs. If you are building a house, think of reducing the costs by purchasing cheaper fixtures, for example. Lowering the cost of building your home by a few thousand dollars can save you thousands more in taxes.
- Consider a cheaper property. Stamp duty is significantly greater in most states on properties worth more than $500,000, so consider purchasing a home below this value to save money.
- Negotiate. Don't forget that in some states you will be charged on the market value of the property rather than the purchase price, so take this into consideration when negotiating. You might not necessarily be able to reduce the stamp duty you are being charged but you may be able to come to an agreement with the seller so that you can negotiate the price of the property down by at least the amount of stamp duty you need to pay.
- Change states. If it's an option, you can also consider relocating to another state where stamp duty is significantly lower or, if you are a first time home buyer, where you are completely exempt from paying stamp duty.
Since stamp duty can be a significant cost, minimising how much you pay can help you in the long run. The money you save can be put towards building up a bigger deposit or making bigger repayments, both of which will save you money on interest repayments. You need to remember that it does pay to do your due diligence and see what other options are available to you to reduce the amount of stamp duty you have to pay.
Are there any exemptions from stamp duty?
Government stamp duty can be a very large cost, however there are some exemptions that you will be able to apply for, depending on what state you live in. These include :
- The value of your house. If you pay less than the threshold amount for your state you may find that the amount of stamp duty that you pay will be quite low. This is because people who are buying homes that are not worth as much will get exemptions from the full amount.
- First home owners. If you are a first home owner then you may find that you can get exemptions from stamp duty. In some states, first home buyers will not have to pay stamp duty at all, while in others stamp duty will always be payable. However, if you use the first home owner’s grant to pay the stamp duty then you will technically not pay any stamp duty.
- Pensioners and health card holders. If you currently receive Government benefits, you may be eligible for a concession or exemption. Check your local Office of State Revenue to find out if any apply to you.
How can I find out if I'm exempt from paying stamp duty?
There are a number of fees associated with the purchase of a home or property in Australia, including stamp duty. This is a separate tax charged by the local Office of State Revenue where the property is located and is meant to cover the administration cost of transferring ownership and changing the title for the property.
Stamp duty tax is not a pre-set amount, but rather determined by the state or province you are purchasing in, the cost of the property and its type. There are certain circumstances that may allow an individual to be exempt or to receive discounts from this tax. As stamp tax can be a major cost, it’s important to do your research to see if you can receive any exemptions or concessions.
Click your state or territory below to find out about stamp duty exemptions.
It’s important that you consider the stamp duty tax when looking into making a home purchase, as it could end up saving a few thousand dollars off your upfront costs.
Find out the rates and any applicable exemptions and concessions for the location where you are planning to buy a home and make sure you can afford this extra charge before making a commitment to a mortgage.
How do I pay my stamp duty?
Paying stamp duty is not all that difficult, as long as you have the funds available. You will generally receive a notice through the mail to the address of the property you have purchased or a specified address if you chose a different mailing address. The letter will contain all the information regarding this tax, including the amount you need to pay.
In terms of when it needs to be paid, each state differs, but on average you will have about three months to make the payment in full. Note that you can't avoid paying it and if you are late, you will incur interest charges and other costs since you won't be able to complete the transaction.
Physically paying the tax is usually a matter of depositing the money in the account provided in the letter. You can do this via direct deposit, bank transfer, cheque or credit card. You don't need to worry, though, because all the payment options will be mentioned in the letter.
Can I capitalise stamp duty into my loan?
While lenders generally prefer that you pay stamp duty up front, most banks will allow stamp duty to be capitalised into the principal of the loan. You can increase your home loan to cover the cost of stamp duty and then the lender will release the funds when you need them.
However, if you are an investor, stamp duty is generally included in the cost of the property when calculating capital gains.
How do I budget for the stamp duty costs on my new home?
Budgeting for stamp duty costs when purchasing a new home requires a bit of research. First and foremost, you have to consider approximately how much you will be paying for the property and what state you are making the purchase in. This is because in some states, the market value of the property will supersede the purchase price if it is higher. Also consider whether you will be paying stamp duty on your loan or not, since this will mean that you have to pay it upfront.
The easiest way to get an idea of how much your stamp duty will cost you is to use a stamp duty calculator. While the figure won't be exact, it will still provide enough of a guideline for you to create a budget. On the other hand, if you want an exact figure, you can ask a professional to calculate the cost of this tax for you as he or she can take into consideration your personal circumstances.
Don't forget that in some states and some situations you might be exempt from paying stamp duty so make sure to do your research thoroughly.
Stamp duty in unique cases
Do I have to pay stamp duty on vacant land?
All transfers of land come with stamp duty costs, which you see by using the calculator above. The exception to this is through the various concessions and exemptions available from each state, particularly for first home buyers.
Do I have to pay stamp duty on off the plan property?
Yes, stamp duty is still payable on off the plan property, but keep in mind there are concessions and exemptions available in different states. This includes Victoria, which offers a concession, regardless of whether you intend to live in the property or not.
With the concession, you only pay stamp duty on the improved value of the land, non-deductible costs and the completed construction or refurbishment including GST.
Other states also offer first home buyer concessions and exemptions for new homes which can also apply to off the plan homes.
Do I have to pay stamp duty on a loan I am refinancing?
In most cases you will have to pay stamp duty again even if you are refinancing. However, there are situations in which you can avoid paying stamp duty. For example, if the names of the borrowers are the same and the amount of the loan is the same, there might be a chance you could avoid paying stamp duty. In some cases, you might also have to refinance with the same lender to avoid this cost.
Note that in some situations you may have to pay the fees but you can then apply for a refund from the lender. Thus, it pays to make sure you do your research before deciding to refinance because any savings you incur from a lower rate might be completely obliterated if you have to pay stamp duty again. In this case, refinancing may simply not be worth the hassle.
Divorce and stamp duty
Stamp duty isn’t payable if one of you is transferring the title to a home or land to another. However, you can only save on stamp duty if the transfer is done so you can obey a court order. The court must be able to know what assets are owned by each of the parties. This includes all of your assets like land, bank accounts and superannuation. It may be necessary to hire an expert to value an asset.
It’s important to know that parenting is seen as a very important contribution. If the marriage has been a long one, it is often seen as equal to financial contributions. Usually, the court gives the party whose financial future is not as good as the other some extra part of the property owned by the parties.
Here are a few tips to take into consideration to ensure the settlement process goes smoothly for both parties and unnecessary delays are avoided, which also means saving money in the long run.