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The ATO has forced 300 foreign buyers to sell their Australian property

Sydney property prices

The ATO has forced 300 foreign buyers to sell their Australian property

  • More than 300 foreign buyers who were in breach of ownership rules have been forced to sell their Australian properties, the government said.

  • In the 2017/18 financial year, the majority of forced sales took place in Melbourne, where the average price of each transaction was $1.13 million.

  • The crackdown on foreign buyers has picked up pace since the government granted new powers to the tax office in 2015.

Foreign buyers have been forced to sell $380 million of Australian property since new restrictions were implemented in 2015.

According to the office of federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the crackdown has resulted in forced sales of 316 properties.

"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 government said.

The foreign buyers came from at 10 different countries including China, India, the US, UK and Germany.

The average value of confiscated properties in Victoria was $1.13 million, compared to an average of $1.8 million in NSW.

Since the government granted the Australian Tax Office increased powers for real estate compliance in 2015, the number of forced sales has increased each year.

The measures -- which came into effect on December 1, 2015 -- saw the ATO take on responsibility for the enforcement of the Foreign Acquisition and Takeover Act, including the screening of foreign buyer applications.

As a result, 54 properties were subjected to a forced sale in the 2015/16 financial year, then another 96 in 2016/17 followed by 131 properties in the year ended June 2018.

Over that time, the ATO has issued 1500 penalty notices to foreign buyers who had either:

  • "failed to obtain Foreign Investment Review Board approval before buying property", or;

  • "breached a condition of previously approved applications".

In conjunction with increased government oversight of the sector, the number of foreign buyers in Australia's housing market has decreased significantly, falling to a new multi-year low in the September quarter.