Since the amendment of the Duties Act 1997 (NSW) ("Duties Act") on 19 May 2022, industry have awaited the release of guidance on the interpretation of the change in beneficial ownership rules. The Chief Commissioner ("Commissioner") of State Revenue issued a new practice note (CPN 027) in November 2022 setting out the Commissioner's interpretation of the new rules, insofar as they apply to leases (CPN 027: Leases and change in beneficial ownership | Revenue NSW).
Key points to note are as follows:
Example 5A: The Landlord grants XYZ Pty Ltd a 15-year lease of an industrial building. The consideration for the use of the premises under the lease is a prepaid rent of AUD 15 million. There is no separate consideration for the grant of the lease. The lessee can satisfy the obligation to pay rent by either the payment of cash, or by the construction of improvements with an agreed value of AUD 20 million. In either case, if there is an early termination of the lease (other than through the default of the lessee), the lessee is entitled to a proportionate refund. No duty is payable even if the lessee constructs the improvements, as it takes the character of prepaid rent.
Example 4: A grants a lease of NSW land to B for a term of five years. B defaults on the rental payments. At the end of the 5-year term, B surrenders their rights in some fixtures and fit out on the leased premises in exchange for the release of a debt equivalent in value to the surrendered items. The surrender of the fixtures and fit out will be liable on the value of the fixtures & fit out.
Example 5: A leases three floors of a commercial office tower in NSW from B for 10 years. The lease includes a provision that requires the lessee to remove all fit out and fixtures at the expiration of the lease. At the end of the lease the lessor allows the lessee to leave without removing the carpet, office partitions etc. No duty is payable on the expiry of the lease.
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