Federal Government to pick up $400 million airport tax bill

Four years after selling the Sydney Airport to a Macquarie Bank consortium the Federal Government now faces a $400 million tax bill on the transaction. The NSW Office of State Revenue has assessed stamp duty on the transaction of $258.9 million and imposed a further $142.5 million in interest charges. In most property transactions Stamp Duty would be paid by the buyer but when the Federal Government privatised Sydney Airport Corporation in 2002 it provided the Macquarie consortium an indemnity against the risk that the Stamp Duty would be levied at “land rich” rates rather than the lower rates applying to the sale of shares in a company. The Federal Government is appealing the assessment and has asked the NSW commissioner of revenue to determine the assessment is not just or reasonable.