New legislation proposing fees and disclosure requirements for foreign acquirers of residential and other land were introduced by the FIRB on 1 December 2015.

Last year’s crackdown on foreign investors who have illegally purchased residential properties continues. Following an amnesty period (May–November 2015) where no penalties were handed out, foreigner investors may now face criminal penalties of $127,000 for individuals and $637,500 for companies. Developers and others who knowingly assist foreign investors to break the rules, also face fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for companies.

Authorities are currently investigating over 800 cases of foreign owners breaking the rules by buying existing residential property as opposed to new residential property. To date there have been forced sales of eight homes around the country.

While reviews continue to enforce compliance the ATO announced an extension to 29 February 2016 for foreign agricultural land owners to register their land holdings. The extension will allow foreign investors additional time to come to terms with the changes and make the required disclosures. Foreign investors that fail to declare holdings by this date may accrue penalties.

Next article: Tax transparency reporting kicks off