The latest data shows that state and local governments collected 51.9% of their total taxation revenue from property, a record high proportion.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has recently released the latest taxation statistics data for the 2015-16 financial year.  From a property perspective, taxes are largely collected from state and local governments and over the year $49.567 billion in property taxes were collected nationally.  The value of property taxes collected was 9.6% higher over the year and accounted for a historic high 51.9% of total state and local government revenue.

Total value of property taxation revenue to
state and local governments

Stamp duty on conveyances accounted for the largest overall proportion of property tax revenue. Over the 2015-16 financial year, state and local governments raised $20.607 billion in revenue from stamp duty, accounting for 41.6% of total property tax revenue.  The second chart highlights the value of revenue from stamp duty on conveyances and the proportion of total property tax revenue coming from stamp duty.  As a proportion of total property tax revenue, stamp duty has previously been higher however, over the past few years there has been a substantial increase in the value of revenue collected from stamp duty.

Value of stamp duty on conveyances tax
revenue and % of total property tax revenue

The third chart highlights the revenue collected from stamp duty across each of the major states.  It is pretty easy to see what booming housing markets do for state government coffers with the NSW and Vic governments seeing stamp duty revenues surge.  Of course, when the housing market isn’t booming it has a substantial impact on stamp duty revenue, see NSW and Vic in 2008-09 and WA more recently.  The uncertainty surrounding stamp duty and its dependence on stock turnover makes it an inefficient and volatile source of taxation revenue.  Because stamp duty is only collected from properties which transact, the state governments are relying on values and transactions rising across the 5% to 7% of properties which turnover in any given year to drive their major source of property tax revenue.

Value of stamp duty on conveyances tax
revenue across the major states

The final chart highlights the three largest sources of property tax revenue; land tax, municipal rates and stamp duties on conveyances.  Between them, these three sources of tax revenue accounted for 90.3% of all property related tax revenue to state and local governments in 2015-16 and 46.9% of total taxation revenue.  We already know that $20.607 billion in tax revenue came from stamp duty on conveyances, a further $7.237 billion came from land taxes and $16.924 billion came from municipal rates.

Major sources of property taxation revenue
over time

Land taxes and municipal rates are much more guaranteed income streams than the more volatile stamp duty on conveyances.  For this reason, it would make sense to move from stamp duty to a much more efficient, easier to collect and holistic land tax.  The reality is that any such move is unlikely to be supported by the NSW and Vic governments currently given how much revenue these states continue to rake in due to the ongoing housing booms in Sydney and Melbourne.