News

News

The new GST withholding obligations for buyers

June 28th, 2018

From 1 July 2018, purchasers of new residential property across Australia will need to withhold the GST component of the purchase price of their property and remit it directly to the ATO as part of the settlement process.

The changes introduce fairly onerous obligations on buyers of new property and new residential land to ensure that even if they are not notified, if there is GST payable on a purchase, they provide it to the ATO.

There are also very large penalties for failure to comply.

The changes have been introduced to capture GST payments from property developers directly as part of the sale process.

What do sellers need to do?

Sellers of all residential property will be required to provide a notice to prospective buyers telling them whether they will be purchasing new residential property, and whether or not they will need to withhold an amount for GST at settlement.  This means that not only property developers will be affected by the changes, but all sellers of residential property.

A failure to provide this notice can attract a penalty for the seller of up to $21,000.00 per occurrence, and failing to provide an accurate notice can attract the same penalty.

There are some obvious flow on effects for sellers that will have their GST withheld at settlement.  Cash flow will be impacted and where a mortgagee is involved, they will have to take less than the full purchase price at settlement.

What do buyers need to do?

What is onerous for buyers is that their obligation to withhold GST is not in any way effected if the seller fails to give a notice about the GST withholding obligation.

This means that if a notice is not given by the seller, buyers will need to make their own determination about whether the property is new residential property, and whether withholding is required.  A failure to withhold could result in a penalty of an amount equal to what the buyer was required to withhold (10% of the purchase price).

If a notice from the seller is provided about GST withholding, the buyer is entitled to rely on that notice, provided it is reasonable to do so (i.e. the buyer is not aware of any circumstances that might indicate they are required to withhold when the seller has told them they do not have to).

It also may not be easy to determine whether residential property is new or not: what if it has been rented for a number of years?  Is it an independent living unit in a retirement village?

New standard contracts will be issued prior to the changes coming into effect, so Real Estate Agents and sellers should be very aware of the new changes when entered into or negotiating contracts closer to 1 July.

Make sure you don’t get caught out!

If you have any questions about the changes, or would like assistance with your conveyance please contact Lauren Doktor at Miller Harris Lawyers.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – 15 June

June 15th, 2018

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Elder abuse is a global issue which affects the well-being and human rights of our older generations.  It is an issue that deserves worldwide attention.

Elder abuse is any act that that causes harm or distress to an older person by someone they know and trust.  Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological, financial, emotional or sexual abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.

Elder abuse is not always easy and obvious to detect.  Behaviours a person may exhibit when experiencing elder abuse include:

  • withdrawing from normal activities;
  • making roundabout statements or excuses, for example “My son does not like me going out on my own”;
  • being unable to talk on the phone or only being able to talk on the phone when someone is present;
  • suddenly moving away;
  • avoiding eye contact; or
  • becoming irritable or easily upset.

Elder abuse is everyone’s business and I strongly believe that community awareness is the key to reducing elder abuse.  I urge you to engage in discussion with your family and friends and continue the dialogue.  Look out for the elderly members of our community and don’t be afraid speak up if you suspect abuse is occurring.

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, please contact the Elder Abuse Prevention Helpline on 1300 651 192.

For more information on elder abuse, please contact our Associate, Bianca Stafford on 4036 9732.

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Reduction in first home owner’s grant

June 14th, 2018

Attention first home buyers!

The government has recently announced that on 1 July this year the first home owner’s grant will be reduced from $20,000 down to $15,000.  Any contracts entered into after 30 June will only be eligible for the reduced amount.

In order to be eligible for the grant you must meet the following criteria:

  • you must be at least 18 years of age;
  • you must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
  • you or your spouse must not have previously owned property in Australia that you lived in;
  • you must be buying or building a brand new home;
  • the value of the home, including land, must be less than $750,000; and
  • you must move into and live in the home within 1 year, and stay there continuously for at least 6 months.

If you meet the above criteria, in order to take full advantage of the first home buyer’s grant you should strive to enter into a contract before 1 July.

If you have any questions about eligibility for the grant, or conveyancing questions in general, please feel free to contact us on 07 4036 9700.

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Major changes to the BCIPA and QBCC Act remain on hold

June 12th, 2018

Major changes to the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 and QBCC Act which were expected to commence as early as July this year remain on hold.

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Mick de Brenni, has made a media release today announcing further amendments to the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) (BIF) Act which are expected to commence operation from 17 December 2018.   A discussion paper will be released for industry consultation in coming weeks.

The Minister has also announced the appointment of four professionals to the panel assessing and evaluating the implementation of the new legislation: Ms Bronwyn Weir, Ms Jennifer Robertson; Mr Troy Lewis and Ms Fiona Aitchison Reid.

For more information on the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act, please contact our Senior Associate, Rowan Wilson of the Building and Construction team on (07) 40 36 9725 .

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Lauren Doktor joins QLS Early Career Lawyers Committee

April 24th, 2018

Congratulations to Lauren Doktor on becoming a member of the QLS Early Career Lawyers Committee

 

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Natural Disaster Assistance Loans

April 17th, 2018

Following the disaster of last month’s flooding, the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority have announced two types of low interest loans to assist small businesses and primary producers in Far North Queensland.

The Natural Disaster Assistance loans are available to eligible businesses and primary producers who were affected by the flood event of 6 – 10 March in North Queensland. Small businesses are also able to apply if they were affected by flooding associated with Severe Tropical Cyclone Nora in the period 24 – 29 March.

Eligibility for these loans is assessed on a case by case basis. Local regional area manager Sam Spina is available to aid in eligibility and application enquiries. More information can be obtained from the government’s website at www.qrida.qld.gov.au or by phoning 1800 623 946 and booking an appointment with Sam.

This initiative is a joint Queensland and Commonwealth assistance program. Further enquiries should be directed to the website or phone number above.

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National Advance Care Planning Week – Plan for tomorrow, live for today

April 16th, 2018

Australia’s first ever Advance Care Planning week begins today, to raise awareness and encourage Australians, young and old, to engage in conversation about their preferred health care, if they were too sick to speak for themselves.  Advance care planning ensures that your voice is heard if medical decisions have to be made for you.

Figures show that less than 15% of Australians have an advance care plan in place.  In Queensland, an advance health directive is a document where you can record your wishes and directions regarding your future health care for various medical conditions, in the event you were incapable of making those decisions for yourself.  Having an advance health directive in place reduces stress for your loved ones as it allows your family, friends and doctors to understand what is important to you and what is an acceptable outcome for your life.

The first step to an advance care plan is talking to your friends and family about your wishes.  We encourage you to join in the conversation.

For more information about Advance Care Planning week visit www.advancecareplanning.org.au or contact our Wills and Estates Solicitor, Bianca Stafford on 07 4036 9700.

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5 things you need to know when buying your first home

March 22nd, 2018

You’ve been saving for ages, you have found “the one” and you want to make an offer.  There is so much to think about when choosing to buy your first home – deciding if you want build, buying a renovator’s delight ,  co-ordinating the big move, getting funds in order and everything seems to happen so fast.

Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for the challenge of buying your first home:

1.  The dollars

Most first home buyers have been saving for a long time for their first home.  It can be easy to get swept away with the price when you have your heart set on a particular property.  Thankfully, there are some great incentives for first home buyers that can save you money, but there are also some incidental costs that you may not expect.

It is not just the purchase price you need to factor in when buying your first home.  Below are some other costs to consider:

  • transfer duty (stamp duty): this tax has been around for a while so it may not be much of a surprise to have to pay it, but it can be a fair chunk of cash, so make sure you don’t forget about it and plan ahead.  Thankfully,  there is a concession for most first home buyers which is a great help, and a majority of first home buyers will not have to pay duty on their purchase if the price is $550,000.00 or less;
  • loan fees, solicitor fees, registration fees and insurance: all these costs probably do not come as much of a shock but it does not take much for them to add up.  A lot of first time buyers are not aware that pursuant to the terms of most contracts, they need to get insurance for the property on the next business day following the contract being signed.  If your savings have been cleaned out by paying the deposit you may struggle with the other costs.  The Queensland Government also charges a fee for registration of a transfer of property and these costs generally come out of your loan;
  • first home owner’s grant: the good news is that the first home buyer’s concession is still available in Queensland for new builds.  Subject to certain eligibility criteria, until 30 June 2018 you can receive $20,000.00 towards your purchase of a brand new home  (this is set to go back down to $15,000.00 shortly); and
  • outgoings and adjustments: at settlement, outgoings such as rates, water usage and body corporate levies will be adjusted on the final amount you pay.  Depending on the particular property and when you settle, this amount may be a little or a lot.

2.  What is in the contract

Putting in an offer on a place is usually in the form of a contract, so it is very important to have your solicitor look over a contract before you sign on the dotted line.  Once the contract is fully signed, it is often too late to make any changes unless the other party agrees.  Make sure you have a good think about what it is you want out of the property.  If you are planning major renovations do you need to know if the council is going to approve the changes you have in mind?  If you are building, are there any restrictions on what type or style of home you want to build that will not fit in with your plans?

3.  Searches matter

Searches are often underutilised by buyers in general.  They can seem like a big cost for a little return but the reality is that you might spend a couple of hundred dollars on searches that could save you thousands in the long run.

Having a building and pest inspection completed on the property (and including this as a condition in the contract) is a must if you are buying an existing house.  You do not want to find out about any nasty surprises after settlement.

4.  Do your homework

Make sure you do your research.  Knowing the area, your long term goals and the property values in the area are very important factors before you jump in and purchase your new home.  There are many things that are not covered by the contract, and which you should check out before you sign.  For example: what are the neighbours like? Does the property flood?  Is it affected by road or aircraft noise?  If you are buying a unit or townhouse, do you understand how community titles schemes work, and are you ready for community living?

5.  Be prepared

Time stands still for no one!  In Queensland, time is of the essence in contracts to purchase land.  This means that you may lose your contract, and possibly your hard earned deposit, if you are late with a condition or being ready for settlement.  The best way to avoid problems is to be prepared ahead of time, get on top of things early and engage a good solicitor to help you through the process.  Before or as soon as you have a contract in place, you should be speaking to a financier about a loan (having a pre-approval in place is often a good thing to do, but just be aware that banks may not give the final okay until they have completed a valuation on a property, which can take time).  Also, you should arrange building and pest inspections as soon as possible following execution of the contract.  Do not leave things to the last minute!

Buying your first home is a big commitment and is bound to be a little stressful, but it is all worth it in the end to have a place to call your home.  Using Miller Harris Lawyers for your conveyancing can help take a lot of the stress out of the process, and save you a lot of time.

For more information, contact Lauren Doktor on 4036 9700.

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Welcome Amalie Grima

December 12th, 2017

Welcome to Amalie Grima, who has joined us as an Associate in our Family Law department and will be working closely with Michael Keogh.

Amalie recently returned home to Far North Queensland.

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Doyles List

December 7th, 2017

Miller Harris Lawyers is proud of our family law team, who were again voted by their clients and colleagues into the prestigious Doyles List of Leading North Queensland Family & Divorce Law Firms, recognising their expertise and experience as family lawyers.

We are also pleased to congratulate Special Counsel, Michael Keogh and Senior Associate, Julie Hodge, who were also, once again, included as Leading Lawyers in the Doyle’s list of the Leading Family and Divorce Lawyers in North Queensland.

Check out the 2018 Doyles Lists here.

Well done Michael and Julie!

Michael Keogh, Special Counsel Julie Hodge, Senior Associate

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