Foreign Investment Property Owners – Beware of the new tax!
The Bill has passed and received Royal Assent on 30 November 2017 for the Commissioner of Taxation to charge a vacancy fee to foreign residents owning an investment property in Australia that is not occupied. This has been popularly called a “ghost tax”.
The fee only applies to non-Australian tax residents who own a residential property that was “vacant” for more than 183 days in a financial year.
A residential property is “occupied” (ie not “vacant”) when:
(a) the owner or his/her relatives genuinely lives in the property,
(b) the property is under a lease or licence for a minimum of 30 days, or
(c) the property is genuinely available for lease or licence for a minimum of 30 days.
If the property is classed as “vacant” (ie not “occupied”), then the owner of the property will need to file a “Vacancy fee return” to the Commissioner of Taxation and pay the vacancy tax.