The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Media Release of 04/11/2005

NO.094

CLARIFYING THE TAXATION OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENT INVESTMENTS

New legislation will be introduced to clarify the current practice of exempting foreign governments and their investment bodies from interest and dividend withholding taxes.

The exemptions apply only to sovereign income from passive investment, such as a portfolio shareholding in an Australian listed company (that is, a holding of less than 10per cent of the share capital of the company). No income from commercial investments will be exempt from Australian tax.

Generally accepted international practice is that sovereign governments do not pay tax to each other on income from passive investments. As the investment options and structures available to foreign governments become more diverse and complex, application of the exemption from Australian taxation of foreign government investments has become more uncertain.

New legislation will clarify which foreign government investment bodies will be exempt from Australian tax and what income will qualify for the exemption. Similar treatment for foreign government investment is provided in other countries, although practice varies considerably.

Interested stakeholders are urged to provide input into proposed legislation governing tax treatment of foreign government investment.

The new legislation will apply to income derived on or after Royal Assent.

Those interested in being involved in this consultation process are invited to email submissions to taxtreatiesunitconsultation@treasury.gov.au by 30 November 2005.

4 November 2005
MELBOURNE

Contact: Amanda Kennedy
03 9650 0244