26 July 2019

Foreign vendors of Australian property no longer able to skip town

Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, today announced the Government’s foreign resident capital gains tax (CGT) withholding laws have raised more than $1 billion since their introduction on 1 July 2016.

"Effectively, the law requires buyers to withhold CGT on land they acquire from non-residents. Key Government measures such as these have ensured foreign multinationals and wealthy foreign family groups can’t skip out on their Australian capital gains tax", Mr Sukkar said.

More than half a billion dollars in CGT assessments have also been captured in compliance and engagement activity by the Tax Avoidance Taskforce over the last two years. This includes $290 million in cash collected thanks to the Morrison Government’s focus on property and other asset sales by multinationals and foreign residents.

"Taken together, the decisive actions of this Government have kept more than $1.3 billion in the country. The message is clear to multinationals and foreign residents – you can’t avoid paying your CGT.

"The Tax Avoidance Taskforce we initiated and our foreign resident capital gains tax withholding laws, which both commenced 1 July 2016, have helped shut down opportunities for foreign entities who try to get their money out of the country before meeting their obligations." Mr Sukkar said.

"The enhanced data analytics and technical expertise of the Taskforce, led by the Australian Taxation Office, ensures that sales are identified and investigated more quickly than ever. The Taskforce is now intervening and engaging with non-resident vendors in real-time, ensuring that where it’s required, tax is collected on the spot before the sales proceeds can leave the country. In some instances additional security has been sought over other assets to ensure foreign resident taxpayers meet their obligations" Mr Sukkar said.

The Taskforce’s compliance activity covers both direct property sales and sales of interests in companies and trusts whose assets are primarily property. The types of property include major infrastructure assets, agricultural assets, mining tenements, hotels and office towers.

"This is yet more proof that this Government has put the laws in place and given the ATO the resources to make sure foreign entities doing business in Australia are meeting their tax obligations to the Australian community in full." Mr Sukkar said.

You can find more detail on the Foreign Resident CGT withholding laws at the Australian Tax Office website.