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Australia Clarifies Native Title Tax Treatment

by Mary Swire, Tax-News,com, Hong Kong

06 December 2012


The Australian government has introduced legislation designed to clarify the income tax treatment of native title benefits.

Native title is described by the Australian Federal Court as the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs. The Australian legal system first recognized native title in the Mabo decision made by the High Court in 1992. Native title cannot be bought or sold. It may include possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of traditional country, the right to access an area of land or the right to participate in decisions concerning how the land or waters are used by other people.

A package of reforms marking the 20th anniversary of the Mabo decision was announced by the Attorney-General Nicola Roxon in June, and an exposure draft on the changes was released in August. The formal legislation, the Tax Laws Amendment (2012 Measures No. 6) Bill 2012, was released last week.

The bill will ensure that certain payments and benefits arising from native title agreements will not be subject to income tax. It also confirms that certain capital gains from native title rights are not taxable.

According to Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, these changes will resolve long standing uncertainty about the way native title benefits interact with the income tax system.

The legislation will apply to native title benefits received on or after July 1, 2008.

TAGS: tax | law | real-estate | Australia | legislation

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