Sydney, Australia

Australia’s New Surcharge Taxes on Non-Residents

By Tony Nunes and Lishi Huang, Kelly+Partners Chartered Accountants

Foreign residents looking to invest in property in Australia should be aware that in all states, non-residents are subject to additional taxes for buying and holding residential property. It may be possible to structure the investment to minimise the impact of these taxes, however they should be factored into the investment decision.

Surcharge Purchaser Duty

All Australian states and territories impose a transfer duty that is payable by the purchaser of land. The rate and scope vary but is generally about 5.5% of the purchase price. All Australian states have now introduced a “surcharge purchaser duty” for foreign purchasers. This duty varies between states but is generally 7% to 8% on top of the existing transfer duty. This duty applies to purchases of residential property by “foreign persons”. A foreign person is:

A foreign-resident individual (except Australian citizens and certain New Zealand citizens);

A foreign corporation or unit trust, or an Australian corporation or unit trust that is part or wholly owned by a foreign person (the ownership threshold varies between states);

A foreign discretionary trust, or an Australian trust where a foreign person can benefit under the trust.

There are some exemptions in each state (e.g., there is an exemption for developers of new homes in NSW), however these are very limited.

Surcharge Land Tax

Land tax is payable in all Australian states and territories except the Northern Territory. The rate and scope vary but is generally between 1.6% to 3% of the value of the land. In some states, land tax does not apply until the land value exceeds a general threshold (AUD 692,000 in NSW, AUD 250,000 in VIC).

Most states have now introduced, or are in the process of introducing, a “surcharge land tax” on residential property owned by a foreign person. This tax varies between states but is generally 2% of the taxable value of the property. Further, in some states, foreign persons are not entitled to the general threshold.


Tony Nunes

Tony Nunes

GGI member firm
Kelly+Partners Chartered Accountants
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Corporate Finance, Tax, Fiduciary & Estate Planning
Sydney, Australia
T: +61 2 9933 8866
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: www.kellypartners.com.au

Kelly+Partners Chartered Accountants is a specialist chartered-accounting business which assists private businesses, private clients, and families to manage their business and personal financial affairs. The Kelly+Partners tax consulting practice is respected as one of the foremost tax advisory firms in Australia and offers the full range of direct, indirect, and international tax services.

Tony Nunes has over 22 years’ experience in providing tax advice. He has extensive experience in advising clients on issues affecting cross- border transactions, acquisitions and restructures, and in all aspects of structuring the ownership and financing of corporations and their operations.
Lishi Huang

Lishi Huang

GGI member firm
comKelly+Partners Chartered Accountantspany
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Corporate Finance, Tax, Fiduciary & Estate Planning
Sydney, Australia
T: +61 2 9933 8866
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
W: www.kellypartners.com.au

Lishi Huang has over 10 years’ experience advising large corporates and private groups on tax matters and disputes, particularly on land and property transactions and global expansions. She has worked in both private and public sectors, which gives her a unique perspective when advising clients.


Published: Real Estate Newsletter, No. 10, Autumn 2019 l Photo: Maurizio De Mattei - stock.adobe.com

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