Inland Revenue Department confirms same sex marriages recognised as valid for stamp duty purposes17Mar2020
Following enquiries from its members the Law Society on 10 March 2020 received confirmation from the Inland Revenue Department (“IRD”) that same sex marriages will be recognised by the IRD as valid marriages for the purposes of the Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117). Same sex married couples will therefore be able to claim exemptions of Buyer’s Stamp Duty and Special Stamp Duty and lower rates of Ad Valorem Stamp Duty as enjoyed by opposite sex married couples when purchasing residential property with non HKPR close relatives in Hong Kong.
The IRD made the confirmation in consideration of the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal in Leung Chun Kwong v Secretary for the Civil Service and Another  HKCFA 19. This case, in which the Commissioner of Inland Revenue was the 2nd Respondent, successfully confirmed the right of same sex married couples to access civil service spousal benefits and to file tax returns jointly.
This proactive confirmation is a welcome move from the IRD and hopefully the first of many by government departments in light of the need for a comprehensive review of existing policies concerning the rights of same sex couples as highlighted by the Honourable Justice Chow in his recent decision in MK v Government of HKSAR  HKCFI 2518.
Joanne Brown and Elizabeth Seymour-Jones
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You can read more about the Leung and MK decisions and the recent progress of equality rights in Hong Kong in our previous articles here: