KNOWLEDGE CENTRE

Do I Need To Pay Stamp Duty When Buying A Home? | Enterprise Legal

Beware of Stamp Duty!

 

Purchasing a property is usually a huge milestone in most people’s lives. Whether you are purchasing your first home, upgrading to a larger property or purchasing an investment property, buying a house is an extremely exciting time. However, during this time, it is important to realise that the purchase price is not going to be the only cost associated with securing your new property!

When budgeting for your property purchase, it is important to make sure you consider all financial aspects of the transaction. One of the key costs that is often overlooked by prospective buyers is Transfer Duty, which is more commonly known as ‘Stamp Duty’ (even though it hasn’t officially been called this for many years!).

 

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty is a tax owing to the State Government’s Office of State Revenue on most ‘dutiable transactions’. A dutiable transaction includes purchasing a property or transferring an interest in a property, either from one person to another or into a separate entity (eg. transferring from a person to a Trust or Company). Stamp Duty is calculated based on the higher of the purchase price payable or the value of the property in the transaction, meaning that the amount payable can vary significantly. It also means that in many cases where you are receiving an interest in a property for free or at a discounted price, stamp duty will still be payable on the total value of the property.

 

Stamp Duty Concessions and Exemptions

You may be eligible for certain stamp duty concessions or exemptions, depending on your situation and whether you meet the specific criteria applicable. For example, first home buyers who are purchasing a property for under $500,000.00 may be eligible for the first home concession. This concession can only be accessed by a person that has never owned property anywhere in the world, who is purchasing the property as an individual (eg. not using a Trust or company).

Buyers who have owned a property previously but are purchasing the property in question as their primary residence, may be eligible for the home concession.

If you are purchasing a property in a Company or Trust, you will not receive the first home or home concession despite you living in the property and you will need to pay stamp duty at the highest rate.

 

When Else is Stamp Duty Payable?

Whilst purchasing a property is the most common scenario in which the obligation to pay stamp duty will arise, there are several other situations in which it may need to be paid. Check out our EL's recent video, 'Stamp Duty Explained', for more details regarding some of the other common scenarios in which stamp duty will be payable.

 

Stamp Duty Top Tips

When you are thinking of purchasing your next home, don’t forget to consider how much Stamp Duty you will be payable in addition to the purchase price, how you are going to fund the payment of stamp duty (eg. if you are getting finance, will you need to add it to your loan) and what Concessions or Exemptions you may be able to apply for.

 

If you would like come clarification on what Stamp Duty you will be paying on the purchase of your next property, contact EL's Property Conveyancing team today:

 

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High Court Provides Clarity for Casual Employment

The High Court has overturned the Federal Court decisions in the WorkPac v Rossato (see our previous article: 'Proposed Changes to Casual Employment') that found that employees who worked regular and predictable shifts over an extended period were not in fact casual employees.

 

To refresh your memory on the previous WorkPac decisions, the Federal Court had determined that Mr Rossato had been given regular and ongoing shifts and should have been classified as a permanent worker, not casual, and awarded the associated entitlements including annual leave. This decision caused panic for businesses with fears that it would open the floodgates for claims of unpaid leave, despite casual workers already being paid 25% loading to compensate for entitlements. 

This decision provides clarity to employers who can now be satisfied they have certainty when it comes to their casual employees. The High Court expressly stated that casual employment can be long-term with a casual employee working regular and systematic hours.

 

It was found by the High Court that for an employee to be “other than” casual, there must exist a firm advance commitment to continuing work unqualified by indicia of irregularity, such as uncertainty, discontinuity, intermittency and unpredictability. A firm advance commitment is an enforceable promise, not an ‘expectation’ of ongoing work. Unlike the Federal Court, the High Court took the view that, where an employee’s contract is wholly in writing the terms of the written agreement are construed to determine whether a firm advance commitment exists, rather than looking to post-contractual conduct.

 

The High Court specifically considered the following aspects of Mr Rossato’s employment agreement provided that:

  1. his hours of work “may vary” and were a “guide only”;
  2. that WorkPac was not required to offer him any assignment, and assignments could be accepted or rejected;
  3. either party could terminate on an hours’ notice;
  4. in some of his contracts, Mr Rossato had the right to refuse or cancel shifts;
  5. the payment of casual loading;
  6. that the employment was to be on a casual basis; and
  7. that any offered assignment could be varied on one hour’s notice.

While Mr Rossato did receive his rosters far in advance, the High Court formed the view that this was of limited significance and did not provide a commitment to an ongoing employment relationship. In fact, based on the Agreement, it was clear that WorkPac had avoided making a firm advance commitment to ongoing employment.

 

What Does This Mean For Employers?

While this decision provides some certainty for employers, it is as important as ever for employers to review any employment agreements to ensure that employment agreements reflect a true casual engagement and that the terms are consistent with the recently introduced definition of “casual employee” in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

 

If you’re wanting to have a chat about casual employees and whether your current agreements are up to scratch, contact our dedicated Workplace Relations team today:

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No Flu Jab = No Job?

A childcare worker in Gladstone was dismissed from her role at Goodstart Early Learning (Goodstart) following her repeated refusal to get the flu vaccine, with the Fair Work Commission finding in favour of her former employer in the case of Bou-Jamie Barber v Goodstart Early Learning [2021] FWC 2156.

 

Background:

Goodstart had a workplace policy requiring employees to be vaccinated against influenza, stating that vaccines were “mandatory” for employees. Despite this policy, the policy contained an exemption for employees who had medical conditions preventing the administration of the vaccine. Ms Barber repeatedly refused to comply with the policy on the grounds that she suffered from coeliac disease, had suffered an adverse reaction to a previous flu vaccine, and had a “sensitive immune system”.

In attempting to verify Ms Barber’s claims, Goodstart offered to pay for various medical appointments, although following this process, it remained unclear whether Ms Barber was precluded from obtaining the vaccine. In fact, the Commission found that Ms Barber submitted two medical certificates from different medical practitioners, neither providing a “substantive” medical reason justifying her refusal to comply with the policy.

Furthermore, it was noted that Ms Barber was unable to find a doctor willing to complete Goodstart’s pro forma medical certificate which required the doctor to mark a box if they believed her medical condition would place her at an increased risk of an adverse reaction to the flu vaccination. Given that there was an absence of medical evidence to support her concerns, it was held that her refusal to obtain vaccination was more akin to a “conscientious objection” that did not excuse her from the obligation to comply with the policy.

 

Is a Mandatory Vaccination Policy Lawful and Reasonable?

In her continued refusal to comply with the policy, Ms Barber failed to comply with a lawful and reasonable direction to obtain vaccination. The Commission considered that Goodstart had legal obligations under workplace health and safety legislation to ensure the health and safety of the children in it’s care in addition to employees, with mandatory vaccinations being the most effective way to reduce the risk of transmission of influenza throughout the facility. The Commission also considered that the policy provided employees to be exempt from the vaccination on the provision of sufficient medical evidence, which Ms Barber was unable to do.

The Commission were of the view that Ms Barber worked in a highly regulated industry and was in direct contact with children who did not have fully developed immune systems and were not old enough to be vaccinated. It was relevant to the Commission that the early childhood education industry has a long-standing history of requiring staff to be vaccinated against certain diseases and viruses, and that the vaccination policy implemented by Goodstart was not inconsistent with industry norms.

In determining that Ms Barber’s dismissal was fair, the Commission drew particular attention to the careful process followed by Goodstart in that the process took a number of months and provided the employee with multiple opportunities to provide additional information and to respond to their concerns and requests.

 

Can Other Businesses Introduce a Mandatory Vaccination Policy?

The Commission’s decision confirmed that lawfulness and reasonableness of a direction for an employee to be vaccinated must be determined on the consideration of a number of factors, including:

  1. the type of vaccine that is involved;
  2. the type of workplace the employee works in;
  3. the nature of the industry; and
  4. the individual themselves, including whether any medical exemptions may be applicable.

While such a direction was deemed to be reasonable in the context of early childhood education where hands-on care is provided to vulnerable members of the community, it is unlikely that the decision could be applied more broadly to other industries or workplaces.

 

If you’re wanting to know whether such a policy would be applicable to your business or if you are considering enforcing or implementing a vaccination in your workplace, contact our dedicated Workplace Relations team today:

Amie Mish-Wills
Principal Legal Advisor – Workplace Relations

Anna Fanelli
Legal Advisor – Workplace Relations

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Enterprise Legal | Debt Recovery: Is It Time to Lawyer Up?

Maintaining cash-flow in your business is essential to staying in the black and remaining a viable, vibrant business and nothing is more frustrating than having all your hard work in your business compromised by debtors not paying their Invoices as and when due.

Enterprise Legal has a number of clients who, despite best efforts, have found it difficult to manage their debtor ledger effectively and consequently found themselves in the position of having to take steps to recover debts due and owing to them.

Typically, by the time clients come to see us they are frustrated by the debt recovery process, they have several debts owing to them and in most instances significant time has passed since the provision of the services or goods, and the unpaid Invoice(s).

Whilst ‘better late than never’ rings some truth, we always provide the following advice to our clients who find themselves in the position of having to recover debts due and owing:

1. Prevention is better than cure, so make sure your business has a credit health check and appropriate debt recovery policy and procedure in place from the outset, to optimize the chances of being paid on-time and in-full. Sometimes, spending time and money up-front saves you significantly long-term.

2. Don’t delay! The moment a debt is overdue and the debtor appears non-responsive to ‘chasers’ by your business, come and see the team at Enterprise Legal. The longer a debt is outstanding, the more confident the debtor gets that they can get away with non-payment. Debtors will always have an array of reasons why they can’t pay, it is about knowing the law and how to have the conversation with the debtor, to ensure payment is made swiftly.

3. Sometimes it is as simple as sending a letter of demand on a legal letterhead to recoup payment in full! At Enterprise Legal, we have a 70% success rate at the letter of demand stage, and for a fixed-fee of $330 (which includes up to 3 chaser telephone calls), we often save our clients from headaches and compromised cash-flow down the line.

4. On the occasions where the letter of demand route was not successful, Enterprise Legal has an array of cost-effective strategies and methods to recover debts for our clients, and by combining our knowledge of the law, our pragmatic thinking and our experience in dealing with debtors, we often assist our clients to recover their debts in a cost-effective manner.

 

If you or your business would like a credit health check, a debt recovery policy or assistance with recovering debts, contact Enterprise Legal’s Disputes team today:

☎️ (07) 4646 2621

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