In Victoria, the payroll tax rate has been reduced from 7% to 6.25% and employer superannuation contributions have been included in the tax base. The refinancing of all loans is now exempt from stamp duty. The deed duty which applied to documents executed under seal at a flat rate stamp duty of $10 was abolished, while the Government is in the process of examining the land tax structure for the 1998 land tax year. Changes to the land tax structure will be effected in the Spring Session of Parliament. From 1 July 1997, flat turnover taxes of 35.55% and 34% have applied respectively to lottery consultations and soccer football pools. In addition the Lotteries Development Fund and the 1.5% profit cap have been abolished.
In Queensland, the payroll tax threshold will increase to $850,000 on 1 January 1998. From 1 July 1997, the statutory deduction for land tax purposes for land owned by individuals increased to $200,000 and the exemption threshold in respect of land owned by companies, absentees and trustees increased to $100,000. In addition, all land tax payers will receive a general rebate of 5% for 1997-98 and subsequent years. Keno is now available in non-casino venues throughout Queensland with a tax being levied on the operator. Lotteries tax rates have changed and gaming machine tax is now based on a percentage of actual metered win.
In Western Australia, the payroll tax threshold was raised from $625,000 to $675,000 and the tax rate reduced by at least 0.3 percentage points, while employer superannuation contributions and non-cash benefits were added in the base. Debits tax rates were doubled, while licence fees on family and light commercial vehicles were increased by about 20%. All of these changes came into effect on 1 July 1997.
In South Australia, the tax structure applied to gaming machines was revised as from 1 July 1997 from a two-tier to a three-tier progressive tax structure on net gambling revenue. A temporary surcharge equivalent to 0.5 per cent of net gambling revenue also applies. The Government announced the abolition of stamp duty on interstate cheques, effective 1 January 1998.
In Tasmania employer superannuation payments have been included in the definition of wages for payroll tax purposes from 1 July 1997. This was accompanied by a reduction in the payroll tax rate to 6.6 per cent and an increase in the general exemption level to $600 000. It was also announced that the re-financing of loans would be exempt from stamp duty from 15 August 1997.
Subject to the future sale of the Hydro-Electric Corporation's transmission, distribution and retail businesses, the following tax initiatives will occur:
* A reduction in the payroll tax rate to 6.35 per cent from 1 July 1998;
* Reduction in land tax rates and the simplification of the land tax scales in two stages commencing 1 July 1998 and 1 July 1999; and
* The introduction of a 3 cents per litre off road diesel rebate scheme.