SA budget hacks at banks
South Australia’s 2017/18 budget includes new taxes on banks and foreign investors.
The budget papers released this week feature a number of measures designed to bring in more cash stimulate employment, including a $200 million Future Jobs Fund to support growth industries, $50 million for towards industry-specific grants and $70 million in low-interest loans to support job creation.
Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis has gone after the big banks too, with a new bank levy from July 1 that is expected to raise $370 million over four years.
The 0.015 per cent levy will apply to bank bonds and deposits over $250,000 (excluding mortgages and ordinary household deposits), covering SA's estimated share of bank liabilities subject to the Commonwealth's similar quarterly levy.
The industry was scathing in its response.
“This is a tax with no justification. It is bad policy,” Australian Bankers' Association chief executive Anna Bligh said.
“What this tax does is confirm everyone's worst fears about the state of the South Australian economy.
“At a time when South Australia needs business investment, when it needs to foster business confidence, when it needs the private sector to be as strong and as active as it could be, this could not send a worse message.”
Ms Bligh said banks would fight “to ensure that this tax does not become a reality”.
Business SA said the levy would be passed onto consumers.
Mr Koutsantonis said banks were being targeted after years of catering to shareholders’ interests at the expense of customers.
“In the last year alone, the five banks have collectively made profits of about $30 billion after tax,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“If they start charging this [levy] to superannuants, to their shareholders and their deposit holders in any form of levy, they'll lose business.”
Additionally, foreign buyers have been targeted with a 4 per cent conveyance duty surcharge on residential properties from January 1, 2018.
“If we don't charge the surcharge but they're charging it in every other jurisdiction but here what you'll see is that foreign investment flood into our residential properties,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“I don't want my daughters to move further and further away from me where we've raised our family because they can't afford it because of foreign investment pricing them out of the market.”
Stamp duty concessions of $15,500 for off-the-plan apartments will be extended, and a new $10,000 pre-construction grant for contracts signed for off-the-plan apartments has been added.
If the budget measures pass, a permanent payroll tax reduction to 2.5 per cent will be introduced for businesses with payrolls between $1 million and $1.5 million.