Tax and legal advice

Foreign investment laws overhauled

By Reporter
Spark

Foreign investors will be slapped with new administrative costs and exposed to higher penalties if they fall foul of ownership laws, under proposed legislation announced by the federal government.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has announced legislation aimed at overhauling Australia’s foreign property investment laws, following the government agreeing to all recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry into the issue.

The proposed legislation reflects changes outlined during this year’s federal budget, as well as outcomes arising from consultations with the property industry and the recommendations of the House of Representatives Inquiry into Foreign Investment in Australian Real Estate.

Under the draft legislation, foreign investors will pay a $5000 administrative fee on applications for residential and agricultural property purchases, with the funds set to maintain the new scheme.

More expensive properties will attract a higher fee.

Reacting to the announcement, the Property Council of Australia noted that this administrative fee is likely to raise far more than the scheme cost.

“We note that the new foreign investment fee regime is set to raise $200 million annually, three times the cost of administering the enhanced compliance measures,” chief executive Ken Morrison said.

The draft legislation also includes new civil penalties for agents and other third parties who “knowingly assist foreign investors to breach foreign investment rules”.

“Provisions currently exist under the criminal code for knowingly assisting another person to commit a criminal offence,” the government said in its response to the inquiries recommendations.

“Tougher penalties together with the increased compliance and enforcement regime will help deter non-compliance with Australia’s foreign investment rules.”

The maximum criminal penalty for individuals found to be in breach of foreign investment laws would be increased to three years’ imprisonment or a $135,000 fine, up from $90,000.

The maximum civil penalty was also increased to either the capital gain or 25 per cent of the value of the property – whichever is greater.

Other components of the draft legislation include transferring supervisory responsibilities to the ATO, the government confirmed yesterday.

The ATO will use its “sophisticated data-matching systems” to detect rogue foreign investors and agents, as well as its “experience in pursuing court action” to punish them.

The government also announced that it is working with the states and territories to establish a foreign ownership register of land, which is designed to better monitor foreign investment.

“Once the state-based data collections are established, these will replace information sourced directly from property owners,” said the government.

While acknowledging the government’s consultative approach when drafting the legislation, Mr Morrison made it clear that the changes would be unlikely to improve housing affordability in Australia.

“The proposed land register will be very beneficial to inform policy in the future and should be augmented by better data on housing supply,” he said.

“Stamping out illegal foreign investment activity isn’t the main game when it comes to issues around housing affordability.”

Read more: 

Lending crackdown fails to curb growth 

Drug den disaster a lesson to landlords 

Clearance rates falling in major city 

Re-establishing yourself after change 

Shake-up for Victorian real estate 

Natural disaster warning 

 

 

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Tune in to the latest episode of Property Showcase, the podcast with the inside track on the products and businesses that will help turbocharge your portfolio, maximise returns and make your overall investment experience seamless and stress-free!

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To hear more about these services, make sure to tune into this episode of Property Showcase!

 Make sure you never miss an episode by subscribing to us now on iTunes!

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Many investors who would have been successfully approved for finance last year are struggling now to either begin or continue their property investment journey because of the current financial climate.

In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, broker John Manciamelli and Momentum Media director Alex Whitlock joins host Tim Neary to discuss how APRA changes and the royal commission have resulted in a tighter lending economy and what that means for Australian investors.

They discuss what traps investors should avoid if they are trying to obtain finance, the four key growth drivers in a property market and unpacking trust structures while revealing one type of trust that you should miss.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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When buying property, it’s important to focus on what’s important. Investor Katarina Taurian shares just what exactly is important to her: having the mindset of looking past superficial cosmetic matters and homing in on the structural suitability and potential of a property.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Katarina joins host Tim Neary to unpack her entry into the property market and experiences of rentvesting, and how the Smart Property Investment Show was vital  in a number of decisions which she made along the way.

Katarina discusses about the team that she had help her along the way, why she thinks that you should never skimp on a good solicitor and accountant, and the red flags which tell her why buying a new property doesn’t necessarily mean buying a better property.

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Why buying new property doesn’t mean buying better property

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