The Northern Territory Government has axed a long-standing stamp duty concession scheme for pensioners and downsizers, without explanation.
This scheme gave a flat $10,000 stamp duty discount for eligible seniors or pensioners, who purchased homes up to $750,000.
This means that these individuals did not pay stamp duty, if the home was worth less than $292,000.
Although the scheme was technically due to expire on 30 June, the government has traditionally used the annual budget process to extend the scheme for a further year.
Instead, as part of its 2021-22 Budget delivered on 4 May, the government decided to kill off the scheme, along with a separate scheme to support first home buyers.
The reason for the scheme’s axing is not explained in the official budget speech, the budget papers or any government budget media releases.
The scheme’s axing comes at the same time as Northern Territory property prices are experiencing record growth - making it more difficult for pensioners to move or get into the market.
In the year to March 2021, Darwin dwelling prices rose by 14.2 per cent, which was higher than any other Australian capital city. Houses increased by 16.3 per cent.
Downsizing.com.au CEO Amanda Graham said it was disappointing that the government was axing the scheme at a time when housing affordability was becoming a pressing issue in the Top End.
“Until now, the Northern Territory has been one of four States and Territories across Australia with a seniors-specific stamp duty discount,” Ms Graham said.
“With the Northern Territory once again experiencing population growth and home price rises in the post-COVID environment, we need to be giving tax relief to pensioners rather than removing it.
“Now seems to be the wrong time to decide to stop this scheme.”
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