Stamp duty revision withhold

Friday, April 3, 2009
Issue 660, Page 1
Word count: 366
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The final voting of the bill to amend property stamp duty was postponed yesterday, as some lawmakers suggested that the bill violates the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Assembly.

The final version of the government-drafted bill was put for the second and final reading.

It proposes a progressive tax rate from one to three percent based on the values of the real estate.

Property worth two million patacas or below will have a one percent stamp duty; over two million to four million patacas the tax rate will be at two percent; whilst for over four million patacas the stamp duty is set at three percent.

According to the Third Standing Committee which deliberated the bill, a progressive tax rate could better reflect “fairness of taxation”, as people with higher purchasing power should pay “higher tax”.

However, a number of lawmakers such as Tsui Wai Kwan, Leonel Alberto Alves and Chow Kam Fai voiced concern over the bill.

They said the latest provisions were a “punishment for middle-class people who have the ability to buy a more expensive house.”

They also said that the bill was in contradictory to that presented in the first reading where the government originally proposed to have a standard tax rate of one percent regardless of the real estate’s values.

The lawmakers suggested that the change in intention of the bill might violate the Legislative Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.

President of the legislature Susana Chou thus decided to withhold the final voting and put the bill back to the special committee which will study whether the lawmakers’ suggestion was sustainable.

She said that the committee will make a decision as soon as possible, as the stamp duty revision is a “sensitive topic and many property transaction contracts have been put on hold as buyers are waiting for the tax deductions.”

However, Kwan Tsui Hang said she supported the final version of the bill, adding that she cast a favourable vote in its first reading only on the grounds that the government had promised to look at the possibility of a progressive tax rate.

She also said that she disagreed with the suggestion that the bill was to “punish” wealthy people.

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