In 2015, the issue of foreign ownership of land in Australia has become more focused. The Commonwealth Government has an interest via the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which decides whether a foreign purchaser is eligible to acquire land in Australia. The power extends to ordering a transfer be reversed if the prior consent of the federal Treasurer has not been obtained.
The state of Victoria has in interest via the Duties Act 2000 (Vic). If a purchaser of property in Victoria is not one of the following:
•an Australian citizen;
•the holder of a permanent visa;
•a New Zealand citizen holding a special category visa (sub-class 444),
then the State Revenue Office (SRO) will assess the duty payable on the transfer and add 3 per cent. This rate applies to contracts entered into after 1 July 2015 but before 1 July 2016. Contracts entered into after 1 July 2016 incur an additional duty of 7 per cent.
This applies to transactions entered into or after 1 July 2015 where the transferee is a foreign person at the time of the transaction (usually at settlement). Each purchaser must complete a “SRO form 62” for production at settlement. The transferee can be a natural person, a corporation, or a corporation acting as a trustee.