15 per cent stamp duty
To rein in the city's runaway housing prices, Hong Kong's Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced an additional 15 per cent stamp duty on non-permanent-resident and corporate buyers starting from October 27, 2012. The move prompted speculation over the effectiveness of taxation on the real estate market and criticisms that Hong Kong was turning away from its roots as a free market economy in favour of a more protectionist market environment.
Stamp duty hits middle-income group
I moved to Hong Kong in 2009 as a graduate civil engineer, and since then I have been working on a number of government and MTR construction projects with a major Hong Kong contractor.
I married my Japanese fiancée, and last year she gave birth to our first child.
We have made Hong Kong our home and have saved hard to get a deposit to take our first step on the housing ladder. I have just taken the final examination for my professional qualification.
We have integrated well with local and foreign friends in Hong Kong, learned the language, and regularly participate in community activities.
We pay our taxes, and we are - or were - proud to call ourselves Hong Kong people, even if our nationalities are not Chinese.
However, in recent months the government has repeatedly kicked us in the teeth.
The first shock was when we registered our daughter's birth and discovered that, unlike children of mainlanders with no ties to Hong Kong who were born alongside her in Queen Mary Hospital, she has no right of abode in the SAR. As a small baby, she must submit to visa restrictions.
Still, if the court has ruled that this is the correct interpretation of the law, we must abide by it.
Similarly, while a basic principle of democracy is "no taxation without representation", I do not feel too strongly about being denied the vote, since even permanent residents feel utterly disenfranchised by the bureaucracy and the central government's liaison office who truly run the SAR.
This letter is prompted by the much deeper hurt which hit us last week. After years of hard work and sacrifice, as we prepare to buy our first house, the administration announced a punitive 15 per cent stamp duty on non-permanent residents, ostensibly to cool the market and curb speculation.
As a frustrated first-time buyer on a middle income (about HK$30,000 a month), I would be the first to agree that measures to cool the market are overdue; but as I can hardly be labelled a speculator I feel the measure is poorly thought through and off target, and will add two to three years to our mortgage.
Worse, my wife and I both feel that we are no longer welcome in the city we had chosen to call our home. Is this really the case and are we really second-class citizens?
William Hopkin, Lantau