Have Your Say: Proposed tax amendment could cripple Australians living offshore

AustCham Response to Treasury Laws Amendment (Reducing Pressure on Housing Affordability Measures (No 2) Bill 2018

You should all be alarmed about proposed new amendments which would see a Capital Gains Tax levied if you sell your family home in Australia while working in Hong Kong.  Rather than provide for the current six-year CGT exemption on your principal place of residence, this change means that you would instead pay CGT from the time of purchase, regardless of how long you lived in the home before moving offshore. Many of you may be forced to sell your home for any variety of unexpected circumstances.

As well, if a family member dies while you are living in Hong Kong and bequeaths all or part of their home to you, such bequest would also be hit by this new CGT.

This will hurt you as individuals, and will severely limit the ability of our corporate members to transfer staff offshore from Australia. This is a crippling proposal and we believe this impact on non-resident Australians is an unintended consequence of an amended intended to hit foreign investors.

What AustChamHK is doing/has done:

  • We have raised the issue in person with Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steve Ciobo during a meeting in Hong Kong last week and have written to him subsequently
  • We have written to the Prime Minister (please see our letter here), Treasurer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Minister Assisting the Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition 
  • We have raised this issue with the Australian Consulate in Hong Kong
  • We have brought this to the attention of Australian chambers across Asia to encourage their members to also protest this amendment
  • We will be running a social media campaign and will post this campaign on our website
  • We will continue to monitor and run an active campaign

What you can do:

  • Write to the Treasurer Scott Morrison here (you may wish to use our proforma letter or reference the attached submission by AustCham member SMATS Group  - thank you to Steve Douglas and the AustCham Finance, Legal and Tax Network).
  • Share, like, comment and post our messages on this CGT by following us on: AustCham's twitter @austchamhk;  Jacinta Reddan's twitter: @austchamceo *Campaign hashtag: #CGTkneecapsOzdiaspora      
  • Follow and comment using this hashtag on this subject on the Treasurer’s/PM’s twitter account – particularly around comments related to promote international trade and investment, and people to people dialogue

Corporate members:

  • If you are a large Australian company with head offices in Australia, please ask your head office to also take action. This will severely limit your ability to transfer staff offshore or to attract staff to Hong Kong.

We will continue to raise awareness of this issue with Australian chambers and business organisations around the world.  Please feel free to forward this email to contacts you may have.  This amendment has flown below the radar and we want to mobilise the powerful voice of Australians abroad.

As the Prime Minister pointed out when he was here in November: HK is the second largest polling booth behind London. In an election year, this matters and your voices will be heard.

Best Regards,

Jacinta Reddan
Chief Executive
The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong & Macau