Victorian Stamp Duty for Industrial and Commercial Property changes

In the latest budget, the Victorian Government announced significant changes to the payment and application of Stamp Duty for Industrial and Commercial Properties as of 1 July 2024.

The Commercial and Industrial Property Tax Reform Act 2024 (Vic) (the Act) provides that commercial and industrial properties in Victoria will be subject to stamp duty for a final time when it is next sold or otherwise transacted after 1 July 2024. Ten years later from the time at which the transaction takes place, it will transition to the new annual Commercial and Industrial Property Tax (CIPT) imposed at the rate of 1% of the unimproved value of the land. The CIPT will be in addition to land tax.

Notably, properties that are not sold or transacted (a change of ownership of more than 50%) will remain outside the CIPT regime and CIPT will not be payable even after the 10 year transition period.

What properties does this apply to?
Only properties and land zoned Commercial or Industrial fall within this new reform. The State Revenue Office will rely on Council Rates for assessing whether a property is Commercial or Industrial.

Mixed-use properties will be assessed on a case by case basis and the Commissioner will make a determination as to whether the property is primarily used for Commercial or Industrial. If so, CIPT will be payable. If not, CIPT will not be payable. This is an all or nothing situation.

What triggers the introduction of CIPT?
A change of 50% or more ownership in a property will trigger the transition to CIPT. Minority investors may become subject to CIPT directly or indirectly if a majority interest in the property is changed (which may occur in a syndicate) on or after 1 July 2024.

Owners seeking to change ownership of their commercial or industrial property between trusts, SMSFs or corporations that transact after 1 July 2024 will also trigger the implementation of CIPT.

Do I still pay Stamp Duty?
Stamp Duty will still be payable on the first transaction for that particular property that occurs on or after 1 July 2024. Stamp Duty can be paid upfront (as would usually occur) or you can apply for a Government Funded Support Loan which incurs interest (rate still be determined but looking like approximately 7%pa) and repayments are to be paid annually over 10 years. If you sell within the 10 years the Loan is to be repaid in full and it is likely that break costs will be charged. The Loan does not fall to the next purchaser.

This first transaction triggers the property to enter the CIPT scheme and 10 years from that date CIPT will be payable. If, for example, 3 years after the first transaction, the property is then sold, this next transaction does not incur Stamp Duty but CIPT will be payable in 7 years time by whoever owns the property at that time.

What is the rate of CIPT?
The rate of CIPT is 1% of the unimproved value of the property (as assessed on your Council Rates Certificate). It is an annual tax and is to be paid in addition to regular land tax. For example, if the unimproved value of the property is $800,000 your CIPT will be $8,000 annually.

The owner of the property as of 31 December immediately preceding the tax year has the liability of the CIPT and this cannot be adjusted on the sale of the property.

Can I pass CIPT onto my Tenant?
In most instances, no you cannot pass CIPT onto your Tenant for payment as an outgoing. The Retail Leases Act 2003 prohibits the passing on of CIPT and Land Tax to a Tenant as an outgoing. If your Lease does not fall within the confines of the Retail Leases Act 2003 then, subject to the terms of your lease, you may be able to pass on payment of CIPT to the Tenant.

What if I leave my property as it is for the next 20 years?
If you do not change the ownership of your property over the next 20-30 years then you will not trigger CIPT and it will not be payable. Bear in mind that this is the case under the current legislative framework and there is no guarantee that this, or the rate of the CIPT, will not change in the future.

What should I do?
If you have no intention of changing the ownership structure of your property for the foreseeable future, then you do not need to do anything. If a change is on the cards, you should transact this change (sign a Contract or Transfer of Land) prior to 1 July 2024.

If you are looking at purchasing a Commercial or Industrial property, you should sign a Contract of Sale before 1 July 2024.

In summary:

  1. CIPT applies to changes in ownership of Commercial or Industrial properties with a Contract signed and settlement taking place after 1 July 2024;
  2. The first transaction after 1 July 2024 will incur Stamp Duty which can be paid in full or via a government funded transition loan;
  3. 10 years after the first transaction, CIPT will be payable by the then current owner at the rate of 1% of the unimproved value.

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