How the REIQ toppled the land tax regime
With less than 24 hours’ notice to the REIQ, the State Government announced a proposed new land tax regime shortly before Christmas 2021. The REIQ swung into action to campaign against it and was a leading voice on the issue from day one.
Under the proposed regime, the government planned to charge a state land tax based on the value of properties held across Australia, rather than just in Queensland. The Treasurer positioned the move as one that would supposedly “close a loophole” that interstate investors were exploiting.
The REIQ was quick to refute this and to call the tax out as a blatant cash grab. Whether a property investor was based interstate or in Queensland was immaterial – if they held investment property in Queensland and other states or territories, they would be subject to the new regime.
Shining a harsh light on the land tax regime
Once the REIQ became aware of the surprise announcement, it quickly issued a media release denouncing the changes and criticising the government for dipping into the piggy bank of property owners yet again.
The REIQ believed the unprecedented proposal would have the damaging effect of making existing and new Queensland property investors liable for a greater amount of land tax than in any other state or territory of Australia – ultimately driving away investment in our state.
It would also add to the burden of investors who were already paying land tax in their relevant jurisdictions outside of Queensland. It was a tax that would hurt Queensland landholders, renters, companies and small business in one fell swoop.
The REIQ also immediately poked holes in the practical administration of such a regime, questioning how the government intended to get the relevant data to implement it.
The peak body also sounded the alarm and raised awareness of the proposed changes with Queensland real estate professionals, travelling around the state from early May to late June 2022.
The REIQ’s submission
On 19 May 2022, the REIQ responded to an invitation to make a submission to the Treasurer in response to a consultation paper relating to the proposed land tax reforms.
Stakeholders were given a mere 10 days to respond to what was a highly complex yet brief consultation paper.
The REIQ’s submission strongly recommended that Treasury postpone the introduction of the proposed changes in order to obtain proper legal and taxation advice from suitably qualified stakeholders.
Disappointingly, without further consultation, the Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (“the Bill”) was introduced into Parliament by the Honourable Cameron Dick, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment, on 21 June 2022. The Bill, which was the legislative instrument to introduce the land tax changes into law, was quickly passed in the same month despite our grave concerns.
Land tax regime begins knocking confidence
The Bill received assent on 30 June 2022.
Following this, the peak body was inundated with messages from industry professionals, accountants, lawyers and investors expressing concern about the impacts of the legislation, some of whom had begun advising clients to boycott property investment in Queensland on account of the land tax regime.
The REIQ also heard from multiple agents who received instructions from clients asking them to sell their Queensland investment properties in direct response to the new land tax regime.
Building the pressure
In early September 2022, the REIQ sent a letter to the Treasurer requesting an urgent meeting to discuss why this legislative reform should be repealed.
The REIQ then issued another media release, this time calling for the repeal of the illogical land tax regime.
The next day, REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella joined the Opposition Leader and Shadow Treasurer at a media conference at Parliament House where the REIQ reiterated its call for repealing the tax and the Opposition called for the land tax modelling details to be released.
The media conference was attended by Channels 7, 9, and 10, furthering the momentum of the REIQ’s advocacy and igniting the issue on the media agenda.
What followed was a storm of media activity seeing the REIQ undertaking dozens of interviews with print and broadcast media in Queensland and across Australia during September.
Our partners formed a growing coalition of voices speaking out against the tax, such as REA Group, Property Council of Australia (PCIA), Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) and the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).
A strong relationship with The Courier-Mail meant the REIQ became a key spokesperson throughout the newspaper’s ‘Hitting Home’ campaign, which resulted in the Housing Summit being called to address housing supply issues and pressure continuing to mount regarding repealing the new land tax regime.
The REIQ took the opportunity of the Queensland Housing Roundtable on 16 September 2022 to again raise its opposition to the land tax regime.
Victory over the regime
On Friday 30 September 2022, the Premier intervened and announced the land tax regime would be shelved.
The REIQ issued a media release congratulating the government on abandoning the regressive land tax regime and fielded a flurry of Queensland-based and national media inquiries.
Just another example of how your peak body advocates on behalf of our members – and a successful outcome we’re very proud to have achieved for the real estate profession and the broader Queensland community.