A homeowner on Wednesday urged the High Court to review government property cooling measures, claiming he was unfairly charged HK$273,000 stamp duty.
The measure, intended to curb property speculation, imposes double stamp duty but allows an exemption for owners who buy a new property for their own use and sell their previous home within six months.
But Ho Kwok-tai sold two small flats to buy a bigger one for his family and as such didn’t get the tax refund. He wanted the court to review the decision and order a refund.
Lorinda Lau, lawyer for Mr Ho, said the policy was unfair as it only refunded owners who buy one flat and sell another. She said the tax department failed to consider families moving into a bigger flat so grandparents could move in to take care of grandchildren.
The court heard Ho bought the two flats in Greenfield Garden, Tsing Yi, in 1995 and 2006. Both were used by his family.
He bought a bigger flat for HK$7.3 million after his wife gave birth to a second child in 2013, selling the others for about HK$8 million within two months.
Lau said Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah wrote in a 2013 blog that he imposed the double stamp duty policy to discourage property speculation.
“The financial secretary is in no way trying to add actual burden to residents,” Lau said.
Barrister Eugene Fung, representing the Collector of Stamp Revenue of the Government of Hong Kong SAR, said the law stated clearly the exemption only applied to owners who bought one and sold one property, and that Ho wasn’t due an exemption.
Deputy High Court Judge Brian Keith said it was an important case and he would hand down his decision soon.
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