The economic plan Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered on Tuesday 9 May has housing affordability as the centrepiece. His 2017 Federal Budget had a number of significant announcements:
- Using superannuation to help fund the deposit for first-home buyers
- Allowing non-concessional contributions for those downsizing the family home
- Increasing the Medicare Levy by 0.5%
- Changes to eligibility for concession cards and income support payments.
The Budget also announced $75 billion in infrastructure funding and financing over the next 10 years. This will include $5.3 billion in equity funding for the second Sydney airport at Badgery’s Creek and $8.4 billion in equity funding for the inland rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Another $18.6 billion will be spent on education over the next 10 years, with funding for each student across all sectors growing at an average of 4.1 % a year. Small businesses with a turnover up to $10 million will continue to be able to immediately write off expenditure up to $20,000 for another year.
Housing and superannuation
While Mr Morrison says “there are no silver bullets to make housing more affordable”, he promised a range of measures to boost the supply of land for new housing, help first-home buyers and further restrict foreign investment.
First-home buyers will be able to use voluntary contributions to their existing superannuation funds to save for a house deposit. Contributions and earnings will be taxed at 15%, rather than marginal rates, and withdrawals will be taxed at their marginal rate, less a 30% tax offset. Contributions will be limited to $30,000 per person in total and $15,000 per year. Both members of a couple can take advantage of the scheme. Non-concessional contributions can also be made but will not benefit from the tax concessions apart from earnings being taxed at 15%.
The States will be required to deliver on housing supply targets and reform their planning systems and a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility will aim to remove infrastructure impediments to developing new homes.
In Melbourne, Defence Department land at Maribyrnong will be released for a new suburb that could cater for 6,000 new homes. A new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation will be established by 1 July 2018 to provide long-term, low-cost finance for more affordable rental housing.
States and Territories will be encouraged to transfer stock to the community housing sector and Managed Investment Trusts will be allowed to develop and own affordable housing. The incentive for investors will include a capital gains tax discount of 60%, and direct deduction of welfare payments from tenants.
Contribution of home sale proceeds into super
Australians over the age of 65 will each be able to make a non-concessional contribution of up to $300,000 into their superannuation fund from the proceeds of the sale of their principal home.
There are no changes to negative gearing, but tougher rules on foreign investment in residential real estate remove the main residence capital gains tax exemption and tighten compliance. An annual Levy of at least $5,000 will also apply to all future foreign-owned properties that are vacant for at least six months each year. As well, developers also won’t be allowed to sell more than 50% of new developments to foreign investors.
Education and health care
This Budget will invest $18.6 billion in extra schools funding over the next 10 years, in accordance with the Gonski needs-based standard. Funding for each student across all sectors will grow at an average of 4.1% a year.
However, university fees will rise by $2,000 to $3,600 for a four-year course and students will have to start paying back their debt when they earn more than $42,000 from July next year, down from the current level of $55,000. A 2.5 % efficiency dividend will be applied to universities for the next two years.
In health care, the Medicare Levy will increase on 1 July 2019 by 0.5% to 2.5% of taxable income to help fund the $22 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Treasurer says all Australians have a role to play in supporting the disability scheme, even if they aren’t directly affected.
The Budget lifts the freeze on the indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule and reinstates bulk billing for diagnostic imaging and pathology services. The Pensioner Concession Card will be reinstated for those pensioners who were no longer entitled to the pension following the changes to the pension assets test from 1 January 2017.
Hospital funding will increase by an additional $2.8 billion over four years and an additional $115 million will be spent on mental health initiatives. Another $1.4 billion will be spent on health research over the next four years.
Most changes must be legislated and passed through Parliament before they apply. If you think you may be impacted by some of the Budget’s proposed changes, you should consider seeking professional advice. A financial adviser can give you a clear understanding of where you stand and how you can manage your cash flow, super and investments in light of proposed changes.