Stamp Duty on Transfer of Real Property (Land)

All transfers of land are subject to duty on the instrument of transfer based on the value of the land (including improvements) or the consideration (including GST) whichever is greater (unless an exemption,  concession, rebate or reduction applies).

The Government announced, as part of the 2015-16 State Budget handed down on 18 June 2015, the phased abolition of stamp duty on transfers of qualifying land over a three-year period commencing 1 July 2016.

Stamp duty rates were to be reduced by one-third from 1 July 2016, with a further one-third reduction to apply from 1 July 2017, followed by the complete abolition of stamp duty from 1 July 2018.

As part of the 2015-16 Mid-Year Budget Review, the Government announced that the commencement date for the first reduction of one-third of stamp duty on transfers of non-residential, non-primary production real property (“qualifying land”) would be brought forward from 1 July 2016 to take effect from 7 December 2015.

What is Qualifying Land?

Qualifying land means land that is being used other than for residential purposes or for primary production as defined in Section 71DC of the Stamp Duties Act 1923.

The Commissioner will generally rely on land use codes to determine whether he considers land to be residential or primary production land. The land use codes within the following Land Use Code (LUC) headings will be taken to be qualifying land:

  • Commercial (LUC 2000-2990)
  • Industrial (LUC 3100-3909)
  • Vacant Land (with some exceptions) (LUC 4110-4600)
  • Institutions (LUC 5100-5990)
  • Public Utilities (LUC 6100-6990)
  • Recreation (LUC 7100-7900)
  • Mining and Quarrying (LUC 8100-8409)

Stamp duty on transfers of residential and primary production land will remain unchanged. Vacant land will be considered to be used for primary production or residential purposes in certain circumstances.


What is land used for Residential Purposes?

Land will be taken to be used for residential purposes where it is determined that:

  • it is being predominantly used for that purpose;
  • although the land is not being used for any particular purpose at the relevant time the land should be taken to be used for residential purposes due to improvements that are residential in character having been made to the land; or
  • the land is vacant, or vacant with only minor improvements, the land is within a zone established by a Development Plan under the Development Act 1993 that envisages the use, or potential use, of the land as residential, and the land should be taken to be used for residential purposes due to that zoning (subject to the qualification that if the zoning of the land indicates that the land could, in a manner consistent with the Development Plan, be used for some other purpose (other than for primary production) then the vacant land will not be taken to be used for residential purposes).

In some cases the zoning of the land will be relevant where the land is unimproved or there are only minor improvements.

A further exception is in relation to land which although coded as residential by the Valuer-General will nevertheless be considered by the Commissioner to be commercial in nature.

This treatment will be consistent with the Local Government zoning of the land. Land uses that fall into this category are Hostels, Hotels, Motels, Serviced Apartments and short term unit accommodation.


What is land used for Primary Production?

Land will be taken to be used for primary production purposes where it is determined that:

  • it is being predominantly used for primary production purposes; or
  • although the land is not being used at the relevant time the land should be taken to be used for primary production purposes due to a classification that has been assigned to the land by the Valuer-General.                  

The land use codes within the following LUC headings are not considered to be qualifying land:

  • Residential (with some exceptions) (LUC 1100-1999)
  • Primary Production (LUC 9100-9990)
  • Vacant Land - Urban (LUC 4100)
  • Vacant Land with minor improvements - Urban (LUC 4101)
  • Vacant Land - rural residential (LUC 4150)
  • Vacant Land with minor improvements - Rural Living (LUC 4151)

Application of the stamp duty reductions are based on the date of the contract for sale and purchase of the qualifying land, not the date of the Memorandum of Transfer or other conveying instrument. If a contract has been assigned, the date of the contract is used to determine whether a stamp duty reduction applies.                     

What is required?

It is important as well as a requirement of law that the purchaser legally records their interest in any land they purchase quickly and efficiently to protect their investment.

The usual practice is that the purchaser will be responsible for the payment of the appropriate stamp duty and Lands Titles Office registration fees at the time either the purchaser or their representative arranges stamping and then lodges the documentation for registration at the Lands Titles Office.

Rate of Stamp Duty

Most transfers of land are charged as detailed below. A number of concessions are detailed in the Stamp Duties Act 1923 (for example, the purchase of an off-the-plan apartment which meets certain criteria), and other conveyances may be exempt (for example, transfers from an estate of a deceased person to a beneficiary under the will). The calculation of stamp duty on transfers of real property can be very complex and this brief information should only be taken as a guide.

Where value of the property conveyedAmount of Duty
Does not exceed $12,000$1.00 for every $100 or part of $100
Exceeds $12,000 but not $30,000$120 plus $2.00 for every $100 or part of $100 over $12,000
Exceeds $30,000 but not $50,000$480 plus $3.00 for every $100 or part of $100 over $30,000
Exceeds $50,000 but not $100,000$1,080 plus $3.50 for every $100 or part of $100 over $50,000
Exceeds $100,000 but not $200,000$2,830 plus $4.00 for every $100 or part of $100 over $100,000
Exceeds $200,000 but not $250,000$6,830 plus $4.25 for every $100 or part of $100 over $200,000
Exceeds $250,000 but not $300,000$8,955 plus $4.75 for every $100 or part of $100 over $250,000
Exceeds $300,000 but not $500,000$11,330 plus $5.00 for every $100 or part of $100 over $300,000
Exceeds $500,000 $21,330 plus $5.50 for every $100 or part of $100 over $500,000

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