The Commonwealth Government announced in February that it is
introducing "better scrutiny and reporting of foreign
purchases of agricultural land".
Many existing owners of agricultural land will need to register
with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by 31
"Foreign persons" with certain
interests in "agricultural land" held on or after 1 July
2015 must report those interests to the ATO.
Details of the new requirements and how Thynne + Macartney can
assist with registration are set out below.
Summary of the changes
The changes include:
From 1 March 2015, the screening threshold for Foreign
Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval for a proposed
acquisition of rural land by privately-owned
foreign investors was reduced from $252 million to $15 million
(with some exceptions). This new threshold applies to the
cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the investor,
including the proposed purchase.
From 1 December 2015, a new $55 million threshold (again, with
some exceptions) for foreign investment in
agribusiness will be introduced.
From 1 December 2015, significant new fees will apply for FIRB
review applications including:
for rural land less than $1 million: a $5,000 fee;
for rural land equal to or more than $1 million: a $10,000 base
fee then $10,000 incremental fee per additional $1 million in rural
land value, capped at $100,000; and
for agribusinesses: a $25,000 fee (or $100,000 for agribusiness
acquisitions where the value of the transaction is greater than $1
Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural
All foreign investors who hold interests in agricultural land
must now register those interests with the ATO regardless of the
value of that land.
a existing foreign interest in agricultural
land (held on or after 1 July 2015) must be registered with
the ATO by 31 December 2015;
a new interest must be registered within 30 days of
foreign investors must also notify the ATO if they
cease owning agricultural land.
The ATO will collect information such as the location and size
of the property and interest acquired. The data gathered will be
used to develop the Agricultural Land Register, which is expected
to be publically available from 2016.
Do you need to register on the Agricultural Land
"Foreign persons" with certain interests in
"agricultural land" held on or after 1 July 2015 must
report those interests to the ATO.
A foreign person is currently defined as:
a individual not ordinarily resident in Australia;
a corporation in which an individual not ordinarily resident in
Australia or a foreign corporation holds an interest (alone or
together with one of more associates) of at least 15% in the
a corporation in which two or more persons (each of whom is an
individual not ordinarily resident in Australia) or a foreign
corporation hold an aggregate interest of at least 40% in the
the trustee of a trust in which an individual not ordinarily
resident in Australia or a foreign corporation holds (alone or
together with one of more associates) a beneficial interest in at
least 15% of the income or capital of the trust; or
the trustee of a trust in which two or more persons (each of
whom is an individual not ordinarily resident in Australia) or a
foreign corporation hold beneficial interests in at least 40% of
the income or capital of the trust.
The term "associate" is very broadly defined.
Agricultural land is land in Australia that is
used, or that could reasonably be used for a primary production
business and includes freehold and leasehold land (where the term
is likely to exceed five years).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
This decision has implications for Government authorities and corporations, and for private sector project proponents.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).