The Australian Tax Office (ATO) recently released the second report of the Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements as at 30 June 2019. The report showed that 10.5% of Australian water entitlements are owned by foreign persons and agriculture and mining are the predominant uses for the water entitlements. Under the Register of Foreign Ownership of Water or Agricultural Land Act 2015 (Cth) foreign persons have an obligation to register their interests. Specifically, foreign persons who acquire an interest in registrable water entitlements or contractual water rights must register their interest on the Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements, by lodging the relevant form. Under the FAT Act 1975 (Cth), a ‘foreign person’ includes individuals and entities with foreign ownership of 20 per cent or more. To avoid incurring penalties, foreign persons with relevant interests must register no later than 30 days after the end of the financial year. The ATO also needs to be notified where an owner is no longer a foreign person, the volume of a registrable water entitlement changes or the interest is disposed of. Contact M+E for more information on how this affects you.

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