Taylor Scott International News
Singapore and Hong Kong are the most costly places for a foreigner to invest in real estate as they are subject to more property taxes, new research has found. They are more expensive as they are locations where the disparity between the tax burden on foreign and local investors reflects a ‘foreigner premium’, according to an analysis from international real estate firm Knight Frank. Cooling measures in Hong Kong amount to a 15% Buyer’s Stamp Duty and in Singapore there is also a 15% Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty and a higher tax for foreign investors. Australia, Malaysia and Thailand also work out more expensive due to taxes which effectively amount to higher real estate tax levels for foreign buyers. In Australia, Thailand and Singapore foreign buyers acquiring a property for investment are subject to more taxes than if they were buying for their own use. On the other hand, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea do not impose such premium on both foreign and local investors. In the analysis, the Special Stamp Duty and Seller’s Stamp Duty in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively are found to be the most potent policies to deter property flipping. The report explains that following the global financial crisis and its significant impact on fiscal revenues for countries around the world, the global tax landscape has been rapidly changing. ‘Not only has there been more aggressive clamping down on loopholes and a pressure to improve tax governance, we are seeing more cooperation between countries on an international scale,’ it explains. The tax burden ranges between 12.6% and 15.5% in Australia mainly because stamp duty varies among states. In Cambodia, if the investor opts for a ‘hard title’ registered with the national Land Office, as opposed to a ‘soft title’ issued by local authority, he will incur the 4% transfer tax which accounts for the huge cost difference. Some markets effectively charge an investment premium, according to the report. For example, a foreigner buying a property in Australia for investment is subject to 7.4% more taxes than if he purchases it for self use, excluding income tax on rents which is not applicable to an owner occupier. For a local buying a second property for investment purposes, the premium varies considerably depending on the reference point. If the second home is for self use instead, he pays only slightly less in tax. The huge difference in premium implies that Australia taxes more on the purchase of a second property per se than on the purpose of the purchase. Similarly, the cooling measures in Hong Kong and Singapore target the number of properties owned but do not distinguish between investment and self use homes. In contrast, Thailand taxes on investment properties, regardless of the number of houses possessed. Even though Australia and Cambodia do not tax according to holding period, average annual tax burden is lower for long term ownership mainly because one off costs, namely stamp duty and… Continue reading →
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