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STAMP duty on housing loans could be abolished after the Henry tax review, which is likely to recommend states be given a share of income tax to make up the difference.

The most likely path to do this would be for the Commonwealth to give the states the ability to impose their own surcharge on income tax, which would be collected for them by the Australian Tax Office.

 The Henry review has been inundated with submissions calling for the end of stamp duty.

Tax economists argue that the tax on moving house, although easy to collect, leads to poor use of the housing stock and poor labour mobility, The Australian reports.Having to pay stamp duty not only discourages elderly people from moving to more appropriate accommodation, it also deters people from moving house to a better jobs market. 

At a conference conducted by the Henry tax review at the Melbourne Institute last week, both international and Australian tax economists said stamp duty should go, with Melbourne University professor John Freebairn describing the tax as “a piece of garbage”.

The review panel is being influenced by state submissions arguing that replacing stamp duty by extending other state taxes, such as payroll tax or land tax, would be too difficult to implement nationally.

Tasmanian Treasury secretary Don Challen, who is close to the inquiry’s head, federal Treasury secretary Ken Henry, told last week’s conference that reform of state taxes would succeed only with leadership from the national government.                                                                                                                                                      stamp duty

“If you want to achieve a difficult reform, you’ve got to make it a national one,” Mr Challen said.

He said it would be too hard to win political consensus to extend land or payroll taxes.

“It requires eight lots of political commitment and eight lots of legislation and that path is doomed to failure,” he said.

However, he said he believed states would be willing to act on stamp duty if the commonwealth provided an avenue for alternative revenue.

The idea of giving states a cut of income tax was pressed two years ago by the OECD, which suggested the states “piggy-back” on income tax. The OECD also urged states to drop stamp duty.

One of the world’s leading experts on federal taxes, Canada’s Richard Bird, said the states were heading for a financial crisis because they did not have a sufficient tax base to support their burgeoning health and education costs, which were all rising much faster than the consumer price index.

One of the problems with stamp duty for the states is that it is vulnerable to the state of property markets.

Stamp duty usually raises about $14 billion a year for the states, but the recent state budgets showed big falls of more than $1bn each in NSW and Queensland, in 2008-09, for example.

“In Australia, it should certainly be feasible to permit states to impose a surcharge on the federal personal income tax base,” Professor Bird said.

He said that, ideally, Australia would follow the Scandinavian practice of allowing states to have a flat tax surcharge on income, rather than mirroring the commonwealth’s progressive taxation.

The states would be allowed to set their own level, making states more responsible for their own finances.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Australia is still open for business

Despite the current financial troubles plaguing the world, the Australian government continues to welcome business migrants who want to move to Australia to estab1201173161413australia-flaglish and operate a new business or purchase and operate an existing business.Migration opportunities also exist for people who wish to invest in Government bonds. Australia’s states and territories are competing in a bid to sponsor business people from around the world in an effort to attract investment and suitable migrants to their cities and towns. At the same time the Australian government has been at pains to stress the importance it places on small business in Australia and has rewarded the sector with significant tax relief. On March 28 2009, the Australian government announced more than AUD720 million (SLR 23 billion) of cash-flow relief and further initiatives to support small business are expected in the May budget.

Although the business world has been pessimistic about the impact of the global financial crisis, Australia has been better positioned than most countries to weather the storm. A survey conducted by the Small Business Development Corporation of small business sentiment in Western Australia has found that “there is more optimism within the small business sector than media reports would have us believe”, SBDC Managing Director Mr Stephen Moir said when the survey was released. This may make it a good time for potential business migrants to consider a move to Australia.

Many business people from around the world have already taken advantage of the opportunities offered under Australia’s business migration programme. A total of 6565 business visas were granted in 2008, a 12.5% increase on the 2007 figure. This is about equal to the number of business visas that can be granted before July 2009 under the recently announced cap. New business visa applications are still being accepted and processed as normal and no limits have been announced for 2010. It is not clear what effect the global downturn will have on demand for these visas and whether the caps for 2009 will have an effect on processing times in the future. There would appear to be little reason for the Australian Government to place significant limits on the number of business visas in the future – business migrants create job opportunities in Australia rather than reduce them.

Historically the Australian business visa programme has attracted mostly small to medium business people who are seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families in Australia. In recent years the program has attracted many applicants from countries such as the PRC, Indonesia and South Africa where there has been some political or economic instability and concern for the future.

Australia’s business visa program is targeted at small business owners and senior managers who have a proven track-record of successful business in their country and who have accumulated wealth through their entrepreneurship, which can be invested in Australia. Successful business applicants need to show that their business has recorded sales of more than AUD$300,000 (LSR 27,000,000) in at least two of the past four fiscal years or that they are a senior manager in a significant business, and that they have at least AUD$250,000 (LSR 22,000,000) in personal and business assets which they are willing and able to transfer to Australia. Business migrants who are over 45 or who do not have a good command of English must be sponsored by a state or territory of Australia.

Despite the global downturn, there are good business opportunities in Australia in many sectors and Australia remains very much open for business. In order to encourage business migrants to establish themselves in their area, some Australian states and territories, including Western Australia, offer incentives and assistance packages to qualifying new migrants and small business owners. Many states and territories offer discounted education for children of business migrants.

A successful business visa applicant will first be granted a temporary visa for four years within which time they must relocate themselves and their families to Australia and establish their business in the sponsoring state. Provided the relevant requirements are satisfied during this time, the person can apply for a permanent visa allowing them and their family to remain in Australia indefinitely. After a time, business visa holder can apply for Australian Citizenship should they want Australian nationality.
If you are thinking about migrating to Australia, the time might be now!

Source  :  www.sundaytimes.lk

 
         
 

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