Recent duty and other revenue amendments impacting conveyancing, trusts, and family law have been incorporated as applicable into the relevant By Lawyers publications.
The State Revenue and Fines Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous) Act 2022 (NSW) amended various revenue Acts with effect from 19 May 2022, including:
These revenue amendments touch on various areas of practice.
Ad valorem stamp duty is payable on option fees under put and call option deeds. New section 8 (1)(b)(ix) of the Duties Act 1997 provides that duty is payable by the grantee within three months of an option being granted. This changes the previous position where duty was only payable on an option fee if the option was exercised.
Duty is assessed on the option fee, not including security deposits, performance payments, and legal costs.
The grantee is not entitled to claim a refund for any stamp duty paid, regardless of whether the call option is exercised. Also duty paid on the option fee is not credited toward the duty payable on the property when the option is exercised and the contract completed.
The changes do not apply to option agreements entered into before 19 May 2022.
Off the plan
A new section 49A (1D) of the Duties Act 1997 provides that to qualify for a 12-month deferral of stamp duty on off-the-plan purchases, a residence requirement must be met. At least one of the purchasers must use and occupy the property as their principal place of residence for at least 6 months, within 12 months of completion. Australian Defence Force personnel are exempted from the residency requirement. A new version of the Revenue NSW purchaser declaration form is available. Part 6 of the form relates to off-the-plan purchases and provides for the nomination of ADF personnel.
A new s 104ZJA(1) (c) of the Duties Act 1997 provides that an Australian-based developer which pays surcharge purchaser duty on a transfer of residential land may have it refunded they later change the use of the land to wholly or predominantly commercial or industrial.
The application for a refund must be lodged online using the application type Australian Based Developer Application for Exemption & Reassessment.
First home owners
Section 13A (3) of the First Home Owner Grant (New Homes) Act 2000 has been amended to include a new definition of the eligibility cap, including how to calculate the total value of the transaction based on the type of transaction and when it occurs.
New sections 5B(2A) and 5B(2B) of the Land Tax Act 1956 provide for a discretionary exemption allowing those who do not occupy their principal place of residence for 200 days continuously in a year to remain exempt from land tax. This allows owners to, for example, live and work overseas for a period without losing the exemption.
The amending Act broadens the scope of dutiable transactions under s 8(1)(b)(ix) of the Duties Act 1997 by introducing duty on transactions that result in a change in beneficial ownership and acknowledgement of trust.
Under s 8(3), the definition of change in beneficial ownership has been extended to include the creation and extinguishment of dutiable property, a change in equitable interests in dutiable property, and dutiable property becoming and ceasing to be subject to a trust.
This amendment directly arises from the case of Benidorm Pty Ltd v Chief Commissioner of Revenue  NSWSC 471 where the Supreme Court held that the definition of declaration of trust in s 8(3) of the Duties Act 1997 as it then was must have a legal consequence, or consequences, beyond merely acknowledging that which already exists. The taxpayer in that case held real property and shares on trust for a beneficiary. When the beneficiary died his sole beneficiary and executor made a declaration of trust substantially the same as the original trust. On appeal the taxpayer was successful and was able to avoid paying duty on the second declaration, which acknowledged and evidenced a trust that was already in place. Such an acknowledgment of trust will now be caught by the Act.
The By Lawyers Trusts publication has been updated accordingly.
A new s 68 (1A)(b)(iia) of the Duties Act 1997 means that for de facto relationships transfers of property effected by an agreement made to divide relationship property due to the breakdown of a relationship will be exempt from duty. Previously, to be exempt from duty the transfer had to be effected by a binding financial agreement, court order, or purchase at a public auction. This brings the exemption for de facto couples into line with that for married couples. These exemptions are discretionary and depend on sufficient evidence being supplied in support of the application.
A new version of the form Revenue NSW ODA 069 – Application for Exemption or Refund – Break up of marriage or De facto Relationship is available and needs to be completed.
The By Lawyers 101 Family Law Answers publication has been updated accordingly.