Federal Budget Highlights from ING

Federal Budget Highlights from ING

ING DIRECT's Treasurer, Michael Witts, summarises the 2017 Federal Budget that has just been announced by the Treasurer, Scott Morrison:


Breaks for first homes buyers

To make the task of saving for their first home easier, eligible buyers will be able to divert their pre-tax income towards a special savings account. This will mean that saving a deposit will become a little bit easier.
From 1 July 2017, individuals can make voluntary contributions of up to $15,000 per year and $30,000 in total, to their superannuation account to purchase a first home. These contributions, which are taxed at 15 per cent, along with deemed earnings, can be withdrawn for a deposit. Withdrawals will be taxed at marginal tax rates less a 30 per cent offset and allowed from 1 July 2018.
For most people, the First Home Super Saver Scheme could boost the savings they can put towards a deposit by at least 30 per cent compared with saving through a standard deposit account. This is due to the concessional tax treatment and the higher rate of earnings often realised within superannuation.
Many employees will be able to take advantage of salary sacrifice arrangements to make pre-tax contributions.


Negative Gearing

Negative gearing remains however some rules have been tightened around what can be claimed, specifically travel expenses and depreciation deductions.
Under new rules coming into effect from 1 July 2017, depreciation deductions for plant and equipment items such as washing machines and ceiling fans will only be allowed if the investor actually bought them.
The "integrity measure", which is intended to address concerns that such items are being claimed as tax write-offs by successive investors in excess of their actual value, is tipped to claw back $260 million over the next four years. The changes will apply to any items purchased after budget night, but existing investments will be grandfathered.
Meanwhile, investors will no longer be able to claim tax deductions for travel expenses "related to inspecting, maintaining or collecting rent for a residential rental property" from 1 July 2017.


Ghost house tax will be imposed on foreign investors who leave properties vacant

To discourage foreign investors from buying residential properties and leaving these vacant, the Government will now charge foreign owners of residential properties an annual charge if the property is not occupied or available to rent for at least six months in each year.
This is expected to increase the number of homes available to Australians wishing to rent. The annual vacancy charge will apply to foreign persons who make a foreign investment application for residential property from 7:30 pm on budget night 2017.
Where a foreign-owned residential property is left vacant for more than six months in a year, a charge will be levied on the foreign owner equivalent to the foreign investment application fee which was paid at the time of application.
The new charge builds on the Government's existing foreign investment regime which seeks to increase the number of houses available for Australians to live in. The charge provides a financial incentive for the foreign owner to make their property available on the rental market if they do not intend to reside there.
This will be administered by the Australian Taxation Office.


Record levels of spending on infrastructure

The budget also included details on the funding ($5.3 billion) of the second Sydney airport. This will create 20,000 jobs over the 8 year construction period.
Transport and infrastructure feature strongly in the budget, with funding provided for an inland rail link from Melbourne to Brisbane
Housing and housing affordability measures feature strongly in the budget.
In addition to the first home buyers savings benefit, retirees will be encouraged to downsize, increasing the available supply of housing via preferred treatment under superannuation limits.
Older Australians will be encouraged to downsize and free up housing stock. These homeowners will be given greater flexibility to contribute the proceeds of the sale of their home into superannuation. Downsizing frees up larger homes for younger families.
From 1 July 2018, people aged 65 and older will be able to make a non-concessional contributions of up to $300,000 to their superannuation after selling their home. This will be in addition to any other contributions they are eligible to make.


Incentives for the building and development of social housing

The Government is taking action to encourage investment in new and existing affordable rental housing by increasing the Capital Gains Tax discount from 50 per cent to 60 per cent for qualifying affordable housing. To qualify for the higher discount, housing must be provided to tenants on low to moderate incomes, with rent charged at a discount below the private rental market rate. The affordable housing must be managed through a registered community housing provider and the investment held for a minimum period of three years.
Changes in Education funding also features
• Extra $18.6 billion in school funding over the next decade
• Up to 24 elite private and Catholic schools lose some funding
• University students face 7.5 per cent tuition fee hike
• Higher repayments on HECS government loans; and
• Universities have to meet a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend


Banking industry measures

A tax on bank liabilities will be introduced contributing $6 billion over 4 years to the government revenue. This will be limited to banks with greater than $100 billion of liabilities.
Productivity Commission inquiry into competition and concentration in banking including vertical integration across wealth management and retail banking. Two of the problem areas for the banking sector in the recent past.
Enhanced competition in the banking sector via open data availability, and the New Payment Platform, leading to an easier process to change banks.


Increased funding for Child Care

The Child Care Subsidy will ensure families on low to middle incomes of $185,710 or less (in 2017-18 terms) that need to use more child care will not face an annual cap. An annual cap of $10,000 will apply to families earning more than $185,710 (in 2017-18 terms).


Impact for Interest Rates, Exchange Rates and Growth

• The government forecasts suggest that the economy will expand by around 3% in the year to June 2018
• On the back of the infrastructure spending boom, unemployment to remain below 6%
• Inflation will progressively increase to 2.25% in 2018
• Wages growth will progressively increase
• The government expects commodity prices to remain at around current levels
• The Australian dollar could be expected drift slightly lower.


Please note the above are proposals as part of the Federal budget and are subject to the passing of legislation.
Reference : ING