Tax Office to probe 32 years of property records

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is preparing to embark on an unprecedented data matching program, today asking state authorities for extensive records relating to real property from the period of 20th September 1985 to 30 June 2017.

In a notice published today in the Government Gazette, the ATO indicates “The purpose of this data matching program is to ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting taxation and other program obligations administered by the ATO in relation to their dealings with real property. These obligations include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities.”

The ATO will seek the following records from Rental Bond Authorities:

  • Rental bond number of identifier for rental bond
  • Unique identifier for the landlord
  • Full name of the landlord
  • Full address of the landlord
  • Date of birth of the landlord
  • Contact telephone numbers for the landlord
  • Unique identifier of the managing agent
  • Full name of the managing agent
  • Full address of the managing agent
  • Unique identifier of the rental property
  • Full address of the rental property
  • Period of lease
  • Commencement and expiration of the lease
  • Amount of rental bond held
  • Number of weeks the rental bond is for
  • Amount of rent payable for each period
  • Period of rental payments (weekly, fortnightly, monthly)
  • Type of dwelling
  • Number of bedrooms
  • The ATO will also seek the following records from revenue and land titles authorities:

  • Date of property transfer
  • Full street address of the property transferred
  • Municipality identifier of the property transferred
  • Property sale contract date
  • Property sale settlement date
  • Property land area
  • Property sub-division date
  • Total property transfer price
  • Land usage code
  • Transferor’s full name
  • Transferor’s full address
  • Transferor’s share percentage and manner of holding
  • Transferor’s date of birth
  • Transferor’s Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Transferee’s full name
  • Transferee’s full address
  • Transferee’s property share percentage and manner of holding
  • Transferee’s date of birth
  • Transferee’s ACN or ABN
  • Land tax and applicable exemption details
  • Purchase duty and applicable exemption details
  • Valuation details
  • » ATO hunts 32yrs of foreign buyer records – Macrobusiness, 12th December 2015.


    1. I don’t think the ATO can prosecute tax avoidance beyond 7 or so years can they. Why go back so far?

      Interesting the specific 20th September 1985 date – that’s the date Capital Gains Tax (CGT) came into effect. I wonder if the government is modeling what positive contribution it can make to the budget by abolishing the 50% capital gains discount?

    2. By asking for information on all property transactions as it looks like they are, could they be looking at a change in the way stamp duties are collected as well.
      I will be in my house for a total of 50-60 years by the time I am ready to sell, all going well. It is claimed the average is 10 years between sales and moving, so only one stamp duty from me, not 5 or 6.

      If they are going after tax avoidance back to that date it only requires a change in legislation to enable it. If the figure is big enough and things get bad enough in budgetary terms, then they may try.

    3. @ Pete

      As far as I’m aware, it’s 7 years AFTER DISPOSAL of the asset. If you bought 30 years ago, but still own it, or sold with in the last 7 years, you MUST have records, or be prepared to drop your strides for the ATO.

      I highly doubt they’ll go as hard on this as they could.

      But that said, just as proved here locally in SA by On The Run owners vs. EPA, these government authorities CAN and DO have laws that effectively mean they can do what the hell they like.

      For the record, I’m all for the ATO probing these landlords. Many prepare their own tax without understanding the law eg. Build a fence and write it off as an maintenance…No, it’s a capital expense that gets depreciated….

      Just like the announcement that illegally foreign owned purchases would be heavily investigated, I suspect this will die a silent whimper.

    4. the ato can go back as long as it wants for tax avoidance…no time limit

      this is being done due to budget pressures – hope it hits landlords hard who have been taking cash payments

    5. May I suggest that the ATO start with our well paid politicians. If the following manage their property portfolios as well as they manage the country it should be a nice earner for them. They need to pay special attention to Canberra properties with mortgages funded from accommodation allowances.


      1. Barry O’Sullivan QLD 42 properties

      2, Clive Palmer QLD 27 properties (7 in spouse’s name)

      3. Dr David Gillespie NSW 18

      4. Natasha Griggs NT 12

      5, Karen Andrews QLD 10

      6. Ian Goodenough WA 9

      7= Dan Tehan VIC 7 (6 in spouse’s name)

      7= Malcolm Turnbull NSW 7 (3 spouse’s name)

      8= Tony Pasin SA 6 (1 in spouse’s name)

      8= Tony Zappia SA 6 (1 in spouse’s name)

      8= Sean Edwards SA 6

      9= Christopher Back WA 5

      9= Bronwyn Bishop NSW 5

      9= Glenn Lazarus QLD 5

      9= Deborah O’Neill NSW 5

      9= Luke Simpkins WA 5 (1 in spouse’s name)

      9= Nicholas Xenophon SA 5

      10= Mathias Cormann WA 4

      10= Joel Fitzgibbon NSW 4

      10= Joe Hockey NSW 4 (2 in spouse’s name)

      10= Alannah MacTiernan WA 4

      10= Shayne Neumann QLD 4 (1 in spouse’s name)

      10= Rowan Ramsey SA 4

      10= Philip Ruddock NSW 4

      10= Warren Truss QLD 4 (1 in spouse’s name)

      10= Glenn Sterle WA 4

    6. Re comment #5

      “the ato can go back as long as it wants for tax avoidance…no time limit”

      Technically yes, but their policy of only requiring taxpayers to keep 5yrs (not 7 anymore my accountant told me) worth of records effectively quashes any attempt to go beyond that limit. The ATO would have to do their own substantiation,and they do not have the time for that, they are far too busy chasing bigger fish.

      I agree its most likely being done in relation to budgetary pressures – as the economy tanks, they will try to scrape in money any way they can. But anyone who has cheated is a fool, you simply cant escape data matching now for any registered transaction.

      Its only in countries like Africa where property deals are done privately with suitcases of money and private deed exchanges. A lot of Africans don’t even have bank accounts. Its the ultimate underground economy. Dem good old days.

    7. I think the 30-year, back to 1985, is a strong indication targeting at overseas buyers.
      ATO probably needs a strong software to pick up their targets from such a big database.
      Also ATO probably harvest a lot from such investment and efforts.
      The more interesting discussion would then be the consequences. Maybe the overseas buyers are less influential than the heavily negatively geared domestic speculators.
      Unfortunately domestic speculators can still enjoy the tax benefits at this moment, even though they are the pushing hands of distorted housing market.
      International buyers may just be scapegoats to cover the systematic problem within the country.

    8. I reckon they’ll hit the domestic speculators, but quietly. The database crunching of data is easy. They’ll either use Hadoop or some Oracle platform like exadata and just go for it.

      Government won’t have purged any of their records because they have no storage budgetary pressures as they just waste more tax dollars on it.

      I’d slam it on MongoDB, scale out and use regular expressions for matches and badabing, the ball would be rolling with usable results in a fortnight. Let’s start with a search on the list Vino Veritas supplied.

    9. Interest rate rise starts in the US. Not enough to cause a sudden rush of oxygen out of Australia but with the recent collapse of clearance rates perhaps you can feel the breeze strengthening. Once the interest rate disparity narrows the breeze should become a hurricane as funds rush back to the US. Freeze on lending due to lack of capital in domestic banks to follow, then price falls due to lack of supply (of capital not houses). Over-leveraged investors forced out and enforced selling and death spiral begins. Top of the roller coaster view is quite breathtaking.

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