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Property development and GST report 2021

Findings of research we commissioned RMIT University to conduct into the impacts of real property transactions on the taxation system, specifically GST.

Last updated 12 October 2021


We commissioned the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University to research the real property sector and its impacts on the tax system.

The report identifies:

  • emerging trends in the Australian real property market
  • practices in the property industry that are concerning for overseas regulators
  • the impact of unforeseen market forces.

About the research

The RMIT University research included:

  • secondary research – reviewing academic literature, including
    • domestic and international publications in leading academic journals
    • industry reports
    • international revenue office publications about relevant property and taxation literature
  • qualitative research – interviewing expert industry practitioners and stakeholders.

Key research insights

Build to rent

The term build to rent (BTR) is not defined by legislation. There's inconsistency on how the term is understood across the industry and government regulators. The research supported our approach of working with other government entities and industry to ensure a consistent definition.

Aged care

There are new options taking over from traditional nursing homes. This is due to rising costs of aged care and increased demand from Australia's ageing population.

Options include:

  • home care
  • life-right purchase
  • land lease models.

These models may see some current operators withdraw from this market, leading to only a few larger aged care accommodation entities in Australia.

Student accommodation

Student accommodation was the fastest growing area of the real property market before COVID-19. There are now fewer international students and an increase in online learning. Reduced demand for accommodation means that student accommodation may be sold or rented out to the general public.

Commercial office spaces

Decreased demand for office spaces may see commercial landlords converting their offices to accommodate other uses like function and entertainment venues or residential accommodation. If that occurs, we may see more landlords needing to report changings in the use of the properties and triggering adjustments in their GST obligations.

Industrial market

The rise in online shopping is causing increased demand for investment in warehousing and distribution centres. This is expected to lead to further investment in associated technologies, which may see new builds heavily focused on automation.

How the research will be used

We'll use the research to:

  • inform risk assessment processes
  • support engagement strategies
  • shape future approaches to the real property risk in Australia.

More information

Download the full report Property Development and GST Report for the Australian Tax Office (PDF, 2MB)This link will download a file.

The opinions expressed in this report are the author's own, and don't necessarily represent the views of the ATO.