Tasmanian budget win for seniors

National Seniors Australia has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s announcement in today’s budget of a 50 per cent discount on stamp duty for eligible seniors who downsize their homes.

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the concession was a big win for the advocacy group, which had been campaigning for cuts to stamp duty for older Australians for years.

Delivering on a policy announced before the March state election, the Liberal-majority government’s budget included a 50 per cent stamp duty discount for homes purchased up to $400,000. The stamp duty on $400,000 is almost $14,000, meaning seniors will save up to $7000.

Mr Henschke said National Seniors’ research had found stamp duty was one of the key barriers to older people downsizing to homes better suited to their needs as they aged.

“With the discount on stamp duty, older Tasmanians will be able to move to more age-appropriate and suitable housing,” Mr Henschke said.

“Many live in housing that is inappropriate for their needs, for example with stairs and unsuitable bathrooms. This increases the risk of injury and hospitalisation. It can also bring on early entry into residential aged care.

“Research has shown about 25 per cent of seniors plan to downsize.”

Tasmania will join several other states and territories around Australia to offer seniors stamp duty exemptions or concessions, which are available in the Northern Territory, Victoria, and Australian Capital Territory.

Mr Henschke said while stamp duty was a significant source of revenue for states and territories, it had negative impacts on the wider economy by reducing the turnover of property.

“Stamp duty discourages people from buying and selling,” Mr Henschke said.

“With older people better able to ‘rightsize’, it means more large homes suited to families with children will come onto the market. It is also likely to stimulate the construction of new, better designed homes to meet the needs of people as they age.

“This decision by the Tasmanian government is a positive for seniors and a positive for the economy generally.”

Mr Henschke said Tasmanian seniors also welcomed the government’s decision to cap electricity price rises at CPI for three years, saving the average residential customer about $179 a year. The government has also said it will work with TasWater and local government to freeze water and sewerage price rises in 2019-20 and cap future price rises to 3.5 per cent.

“It’s also a plus for seniors that the government has committed to maintain electricity, rates, water and sewage concessions for low-income households,” Mr Henschke said.

Ian Henschke is available for interviews on 0418 815 319.

Media contact: Lynda Schekoske (07) 3233 9106 or 0488 047 380.

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