ATO clearance certificates for property disposals

A new foreign resident capital gains withholding tax regime has been introduced. The new rules will apply where real property contracts are entered into on or after 1 July 2016, but will only apply to sales of residential property where it has a market value of $2 million or more. Where the new rules apply, the transaction will incur a 10% non-final withholding amount at settlement.

Withholding does not apply to sales by Australian resident sellers, but these sellers will need to obtain a clearance certificate from the ATO and provide it to the purchaser. Note that Australian resident vendors will need to obtain this clearance certificate before settlement to ensure they do not incur the 10% non-final withholding amount. Vendors can also apply for a variation if they are not entitled to a clearance certificate, if a vendor’s declaration is not appropriate or if 10% withholding is too high compared to the actual Australian tax liability on the sale of the asset.

TIP: The ATO has talked to real estate agents, conveyancers and legal practitioners to ensure the industry is prepared to help its clients meet their withholding obligations.

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