All States and Territories have now handed down their 2015-16 Budgets which contain a number of important revenue amendments.

The most notable amendments affecting businesses include:

New South Wales

  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the introduction of the Small Business Employment Incentive Scheme, meaning that businesses with total wages below the current payroll tax threshold of $750,000 may apply for a grant of up to $2,000 when they hire new employees.
  • The extension of the Jobs Actions Plan which provides a $5,000 payroll tax rebate until 30 June 2019 to businesses that employ new workers.

South Australia

  • Effective from 18 June 2015, the abolition of stamp duty on the transfer of non-real property and non-quoted shares, the expansion of the availability of the corporate reconstruction exemption and the expansion of the stamp duty concession for exploration tenements to include retention tenements.
  • Effective from 18 June 2015, the abolition of stamp duty at the rate of 0.6% on the transfer of non-quoted units.  Effective from 1 July 2018, the abolition of stamp duty at general conveyance rates on the transfer of units in a unit trust.
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the extension of the small business payroll tax rebate for 2015-16.
  • Effective from 1 July 2016, a one third reduction of conveyance duty on non-residential, non-primary production real property transfers, a further one third reduction from 1 July 2017 and abolition of the remaining one third from 1 July 2018.
  • Effective from 1 July 2018, an entity will be a “landholder” for landholder duty purposes if it directly or indirectly owns any South Australian residential and primary production land interests regardless of its market value.  Currently, landholder duty only applies where all South Australian land interests held directly or indirectly by an entity have an aggregate market value of $1 million or more.

 Victoria

  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the introduction of a transfer duty surcharge of 3% on foreign purchasers acquiring residential land or marketable securities in companies and unit trusts “landholders” that own residential land.  A “landholder” for landholder duty purposes is an entity that directly or indirectly owns any Victorian land interests with an aggregate market value of $1 million or more.
  • Effective from 1 July 2016, the introduction of a land tax surcharge of 0.5% for land held by any “absentee owner”.  An “absentee owner” includes an owner of land who is:
    • a natural person who is not an Australian citizen or resident who does not ordinarily reside in Australia and was absent from Australia on 31 December in the year immediately preceding the relevant tax year or was absent from Australia for a total period of at least 6 months in the year immediately preceding the tax year (natural person absentee);
    • a corporation incorporated outside of Australia, or a corporation (wherever incorporated) if an absentee person has an “absentee controlling interest” (ie it can control the composition of the board, is in a position to cast or control the casting of more than 50% of the maximum number of votes that might be cast at a general meeting, or that person holds, alone or acting together with another absentee person more than 50% of the issued share capital of that corporation) (absentee corporation); or
    • a trust where it has at least one beneficiary who is an “absentee beneficiary” (including a natural person absentee or an absentee corporation).

 Western Australia

  • Effective from 1 July 2016, an increase in the payroll tax exemption threshold from $800,000 to $850,000.
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, an increase to the land tax scale rates for 2015/16 (except for the top rate, which will remain unchanged at 2.67%).

Queensland

  • Deferral of the planned increases in the payroll tax exemption threshold.
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the introduction of a 25% payroll tax rebate on the wages of apprentices and trainees, which, in addition to apprentice and trainee wages being exempt from payroll tax, will be used to offset against the tax payable on the wages of other employees.

Tasmania

  • No introduction of any new taxes or increases in the rate of any existing taxes.

Northern Territory

  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the abolition of stamp duty on life insurance policies and the abolition of the payroll tax exemption for apprentices and trainees.
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the introduction of reforms to the payroll tax exemption for charitable entities, such that the exemption will not apply to any commercial work or work performed in competition with the private sector, or bodies that promote trade, industry or commerce and professional associations.
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, the introduction of a 10% community benefit levy on gaming machine profits (which will be in addition to the existing gaming machine taxes). 

Australian Capital Territory

  • Effective from 3 July 2015, a reduction in conveyance duty rates (with the top rate being 5.17%).
  • Effective from 1 July 2015, a reduction in insurance duty rates with the insurance duty being fully abolished on 1 July 2016.