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Local Taxes & Rates

There are certain taxes and rates associated with buying or renting a house in Australia. This section outlines the basics, including council and water rates.

Local Taxes and Rates

There are certain taxes and rates associated with buying or renting a house in Australia. These will vary between states and local councils.

Stamp duty

If you buy a house you will be charged stamp duty, which goes to the relevant State Government. It’s based on the purchase price of the property and is paid at the time the purchase takes place.

Council Rates

Homeowners in Australia pay council rates to the local authority, or council. Council’s look after the local roads, collect household rubbish and run local services like libraries. For more on what councils do, visit our Local Government page in the Daily Life section of this website. Councils charge homeowners rates - which are an annual fee or tax - of several hundred dollars or more, for providing these services. Paying rates is not optional.

Most councils offer homeowners the chance to pay rates in either a lump sum, or in several payments over the course of a few months or a year. These rates are likely to increase annually, to between about three and nine per cent.

If you are renting a property, the council rates are usually paid by the landlord (that is to say, the cost of council rates is included within the rent you pay). Make sure this is the case before you sign a lease agreement. If you are unsure about your rights as a tenant at any time, you can contact the relevant tenancy advice bureau in your home state.

Water Rates

Water rates are the amount you pay each year for the supply of water to, and the consumption of water associated with, your home. This normally includes maintenance of your sewerage connection.

Water rates normally come as an annual bill but you may be able to pay it off in instalments. You may also be charges for water consumption separately to the maintenance of your water and sewerage connection. These bills will be sent by your water supplier. In many instances this is likely to be a State-owned corporation.

If you are renting, some landlords will pay the water rates for you. This is often the case if there is a garden, as the landlord will want to encourage you to water it. Visit the Utilities page in our Moving In section for information regarding electricity, gas and telephone and internet charges.

Strata Levies or Body Corporate Levies

If you purchase a property that is part of a complex, or is in anyway situated on the same block of land as other households, you are like to incur a regular “strata levy” or “body corporate levy”. This fee (usually paid quarterly) pays for the management of the shared areas and general maintenance. It often includes things like water rates, so make sure you check the details with the real estate agent before you buy.

Federal and State Taxes

For more information on the Australian taxation system, see the Australian Tax System page in our Daily Life section.

Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles related to the subject Moving to Australia.

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