June 1, 2017 / 3:59 AM / a year ago

Australia's biggest state hikes taxes for foreign property buyers

SYDNEY, June 1 (Reuters) - Australia’s most populous state will double property taxes for foreign buyers, the New South Wales treasurer said on Thursday, a move aimed squarely at Chinese investors as well as appeasing voters worried about housing affordability.

A surcharge collected from foreigners on home sales will rise from 4 percent to 8 percent, New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told reporters in Sydney.

The move comes shortly after a policy change by Australia’s national government to impose foreign property owners with fines if their properties are vacant for at least six months of the year, as well as a similar surcharge hike by Victoria state last year.

China is the largest source of foreign investment in Australia, and Chinese investors ploughed two-thirds of a total A$47.3 billion sum in to the property market in the 2016 financial year, government figures show.

But there are concerns that foreign buyers have priced many locals out of the market, and that investment homes that remain vacant only add to housing shortages. (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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