If you are an absentee owner, an absentee owner surcharge applies to taxable Victorian land you own. The surcharge is an additional amount that applies over the land tax you pay at general and trust surcharge rates.
This surcharge is 4% from the 2024 land tax year (previously 2% for 2020 to 2023, 1.5% for 2017 to 2019, and 0.5% for the 2016 land tax years).
An absentee owner includes an absentee individual. If you are an absentee individual that owns taxable land on 31 December, you must tell us before 15 January the following year. This is important because penalties may apply if you don’t tell us.
An absentee individual is any individual who:
- is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and
- does not ordinarily reside in Australia, and
- was either absent from Australia:
- on 31 December of the year prior to the tax year, or
- for more than 6 months in total in the calendar year prior to the tax year.
Are you an absentee individual?
There are up to 4 steps to determine whether a person is an absentee individual. You should consider these steps for each assessment year:
- Step 1: Is the individual an Australian citizen or permanent resident?
If yes, the individual is not an absentee person. If no, go to step 2.
- Step 2: Does the individual ordinarily reside in Australia?
If yes, the individual is not an absentee person. If no, go to step 3.
- Step 3: Was the individual absent from Australia on 31 December of the year preceding the assessment year, e.g. absent on 31 December 2021 for the purposes of the 2022 land tax assessment?
If yes, the individual is an absentee person. If no, go to step 4.
- Step 4: Was the individual absent from Australia for more than 6 months in total during the year prior to the tax year?
If yes, the individual is an absentee person. If no, the individual is not an absentee person.
Not an Australian citizen or resident
You must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen with a Special Category Visa (Subclass 444), otherwise you will be an absentee individual for the purposes of the surcharge.
If you are a New Zealand citizen and you do not know your visa details, you can use the Department of Home Affairs' website to access the Visa Entitlement Verification Online Service.
'Ordinarily resides' in Australia
If you ordinarily reside in Australia, you are not an absentee individual. To decide where you ordinarily reside, there must be an element of permanence about where you live when compared to somewhere you might casually or intermittently stay.
This does not mean you have to be physically present in Australia on 31 December. We will consider several factors in deciding if you ordinarily reside in Australia, including:
- The period of your physical presence in Australia
A longer period indicates that a person has established a settled residence in Australia.
- Your intention or purpose for being in Australia
Employment or education is an indicator of your intention to live in Australia.
- Family and business/employment ties
Family members living in Australia indicate that you are more likely to ordinarily reside in Australia.
- Maintenance and location of assets
Bank accounts kept in Australia indicate that you are more likely to ordinarily reside in Australia.
- Social and living arrangements
Being a member of local sporting club, church group, volunteer association for example, indicates that a person is more likely to ordinarily reside in Australia.
Changes to your absentee owner status
Notify us of any change in your absentee owner status by updating your details through our Absentee Owner Notification Portal. You can do this at any time but if there is a change in status at 31 December, you must tell us before 15 January of the year after, using our portal. If you cannot access the portal, call us on 13 21 61.