Key News Summary – the number of Australian properties, that have been divested, from their foreign owners is 316 (worth $381m) since 2015, when the ATO was given responsibility for policing these laws.


On 10 Dec 2018, the Federal Treasurer issued a media release saying the Coalition Government has forced the sale of more than 300 Australian properties, worth in excess of $380 million, that were illegally acquired by foreign nationals, since 2015 when the ATO was given responsibility for enforcing the relevant laws.

  • In total, 316 properties across every state were sold by foreign nationals in breach of the rules following ATO compliance action, from 2015 to October 31 this year.
  • The overwhelming majority are in Victoria, which recorded 144 forced sales of property valued in excess of $162 million, followed by New South Wales with 73 and Queensland with 64.
  • The foreign owners come from a range of countries including China, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, the United States, Hong Kong, Italy and Germany.
  • The largest number of properties and value of divestments in a single year was recorded in 2017-18, with 131 properties worth $133.9 million sold by foreign nationals who had broken the rules.
  • In 2016-17, 96 properties valued at $96.8 million were sold, and in 2015-16, 54 properties valued at $61.5 million were sold.
  • Under our Government’s enhanced penalty regime the ATO has issued more than 1,500 penalty notices to people who have failed to obtain Foreign Investment Review Board approval before buying property as well as for breaching a condition of previously approved applications.
Jurisdiction No. Properties disposed (2015 – 31 Oct 2018) Value of Properties ($m)
VIC 144 $162.67
NSW 73 $131.69
QLD 64 $36.86
WA 30 $47.60
SA 3 $1.78
TAS 1 $0.10
ACT 1 0.35
TOTAL 316 $381.0


[Treasurer’s website: Media Release; LTN 238, 10/12/18; Tax Month – December 2018]

FJM 12.1.19

CPD (comprehension) questions

  1. When did the ATO start policing breaches of our foreign acquisition laws, for residential properties?
  2. How many houses were divested since then, and for what aggregate sale price?
  3. Which State had the most divestments (nearly 50%)
  4. What number of properties were divested (and for what aggregate price) in 2017/18?

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