Govt amends Stamp Duties Act

Parliament has passed changes to the Stamp Duties Act. The amendments will give legislative effect to the seller’s stamp duty, which was re-introduced on February 20 as one of the measures to discourage property speculation.

Those who sell their residential properties and residential lands within one year of purchase February 20 will have to pay a duty of one per cent for the first S$180,000, two per cent for the next S$180,000 and three per cent for the balance.

Speaking at the second reading of the bill on Friday, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the government first introduced the seller’s stamp duty in 1996 to cool the overheating property market.

It was subsequently suspended in November 1997. Relevant provisions in the Stamp Duties Act were subsequently repealed in 2005.

Another key change – the government will now be able to introduce, vary or remove the seller’s stamp duty, via a Ministerial Order that will be published in the Government Gazette.

The Finance Minister said the process of introducing and repealing provisions in the Stamp Duties Act each time the government wants to introduce, vary or remove the duty is not efficient, especially when it has to respond to changes in the property market cycle in a timely and calibrated manner.

Mr Tharman stressed that the government does not intend to change the seller’s stamp duty liberally.

He said: “Any future change to the seller’s stamp duty will be a carefully considered decision, taking into account all prevailing and projected factors at the time.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 12 Mar 2010

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