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The land you own and occupy as your home is your principal place of residence (PPR) and is exempt from land tax.

Generally, we know when a property is your principal place of residence because you tell us in the Notice of Acquisition of an Interest in Land (NOA) form, which you complete and lodge with Land Use Victoria when you acquire property. Land Use Victoria provides this information to us so we know about the change in land ownership and can apply the exemption.

If a property you own becomes your principal place of residence in other circumstances, you can apply for a principal place of residence exemption.

You can update property ownership information, including applying for a principal place of residence exemption or another exemption, online via My Land Tax or by calling us on 13 21 61.

When you no longer occupy the land as your principal place of residence, the exemption should be removed and land tax may apply. It is your responsibility to notify us when this happens or else penalties and interest may result.

Generally, you can only claim one principal place of residence exemption anywhere in Australia at a time, although there are limited exceptions to this rule.

The exemption is also available for land:

  • Owned by eligible trustees.
  • Used as a principal place of residence by a person granted a right to reside on the land under a will or testamentary instrument.
  • Used as a principal place of residence by a person with a life interest in the land.

The principal place of residence exemption does not apply to land owned by companies, body corporates and other organisations even if the land is occupied by any of the shareholders or members of the company or organisation.

Who else can claim a principal place of residence exemption?

Eligible trustees

This type of principal place of residence exemption is generally only available for land:

  • Owned by trustees of certain trusts, and
  • Used and occupied as the principal place of residence of a vested beneficiary, who is a natural person with either a vested beneficial interest in the land (such as under a fixed trust) or the principal beneficiary of a special disability trust.

Trustees eligible for the principal place of residence exemption also include trustees:

  • Of a fixed trust or bare trust for a person who uses and occupies the land as their principal place of residence.
  • Of a trust under a will and used and occupied by one or more persons with a right to reside granted under the terms of the will.
  • Appointed in accordance with a will for a life tenant who uses and occupies the land as their principal place of residence.

The exemption is not available for land owned by a trustee of a discretionary trust, a unit trust scheme or a liquidator. However, concessionary tax treatment is available for land held by a trustee of a discretionary trust or a unit trust scheme which is occupied by a beneficiary as their principal place of residence where the trustee nominates that person as the principal place of residence beneficiary. The exemption does not apply, however, if land is held by a fixed trust and the vested beneficiary pays rent to the trustee for residing at the trust land as the beneficiary’s principal place of residence.

For land held by fixed trusts or joint ownerships, the exemption can only apply to the share held by an owner or beneficiary who uses the land as their principal place of residence.

The exemption is also not available for land owned by trustees of implied or constructive trusts.

Right to reside under a will or testamentary instrument

Where the land is used as a principal place of residence by a natural person who has been granted a right to reside there under a will or testamentary instrument, these requirements must also be satisfied for a principal place of residence exemption to apply:

  • Immediately before the person was granted a right to reside on the land, the land was the principal place of residence exempt land of the deceased.
  • The right to reside was not granted or acquired in exchange for monetary consideration.
  • The person who has the right to reside does not have another principal place of residence in Victoria or elsewhere.

Life estates

If a person who is granted a life estate under a will uses and occupies that land as their principal place of residence, the exemption is available.

Deceased estates

Where the individual owner or the vested beneficiary who was using the land as their principal place of residence dies, the exemption continues to apply to that land until the earlier of:

  • Three years after the death of the individual owner or vested beneficiary, or a further period approved by the Commissioner of State Revenue.
  • The interest of the individual owner or vested beneficiary is given to another person under a trust.
  • The land is sold or transferred to a new owner.

This exemption ceases if the land is rented out following the death of the former owner or vested beneficiary.

This exemption does not apply after the death of the resident who was residing on the land under either a right to reside or a life estate in possession.

What are the requirements of a principal place of residence exemption?

To be eligible for the exemption, certain land and occupancy requirements must be satisfied.

Land requirement

The exemption is generally only available for one residence in a land tax year, so if you own more than one Australian property, only one can be your principal place of residence.

This means that if you have other Australian land that receives a principal place of residence exemption, the Victorian exemption will generally not be available.

There must be a building affixed to the land which is designed and constructed primarily for residential purposes and can lawfully be used as a place of residence. For newly built homes, this means the certificate of occupancy must have been issued.

Occupancy requirement

Where the landowner is an individual owner or eligible trustee, that landowner or the vested beneficiary of the eligible trust must live on the land for at least six months from 1 July of the year before the assessment to be eligible for the exemption.

We may defer the payment of land tax for six months if the landowner or vested beneficiary is unable to meet this requirement because either:

  • They started occupying the land on or after 1 July of the year before the assessment.
  • The land was purchased on or after 1 July of the year before the assessment and they did not start living on it in the year before the assessment.

After that six-month period, provided the land has been continuously used as a principal place of residence by an individual owner or vested beneficiary, an exemption will apply to that land for the relevant assessment year.

Example 1

Jorge continuously uses land as his principal place of residence for six months from 1 September 2019 to February 2020. The land would be exempt for the 2020 assessment year.

Example 2

Wei-Ai purchased a property in November 2019, but only started living in it on 2 February 2020. By 2 August 2020, she had continuously used the land as her principal place of residence for six months. The land would be exempt for the 2020 assessment year if she did not occupy any other land she owns as her principal place of residence between the dates that she is claiming the exemption.

If you need to defer your land tax assessment until you are able to live on the land continuously for six months, call us on 13 21 61 with your assessment on hand.

Can I receive the exemption on more than one property?

The principal place of residence exemption may be available for more than one property if the land is contiguous to (adjoining) the principal place of residence. It may also be available if the individual owner or vested beneficiary is moving between residences following the recent purchase of a new residence or sale of the previous residence.

Exemption for land contiguous to your principal place of residence

The exemption can extend to contiguous land owned by the individual owner or eligible trustee which is on a separate title. Contiguous land must adjoin the principal place of residence land or be separated by only a road, railway or something similar that you can reasonably move around or across. The contiguous land must not contain a separate residence, but must:

  • enhance the principal place of residence land, and
  • be used solely for the private benefit and enjoyment of the individual owner or the vested beneficiary living on the principal place of residence land.

A separate residence is a building affixed to the land that is capable of separate occupation. Accordingly, if the contiguous land contains a house or granny flat, the exemption cannot extend to the contiguous land. A building without all the amenities of an ordinary home, such as kitchen and bathroom facilities, is not considered a separate residence for the purpose of the exemption.

Examples that may qualify for this exemption include contiguous land containing a pool, tennis court or garden, provided there is no separate residence.

Changes from the 2020 land tax year

From 1 January 2020, this exemption is limited to:

  • Land that is contiguous to your principal place of residence if both are located entirely in regional Victoria.
  • Where an apartment or unit in metropolitan Melbourne that is a principal place of residence has a separately titled car park and/or storage space, the exemption may also apply to that car park and/or storage space.

What does this mean for land in metropolitan Melbourne?

If your principal place of residence is in metropolitan Melbourne, it is unlikely you will receive the contiguous land exemption, even if you currently do so. The exemption will only apply where your principal place of residence is an apartment or unit with a separately-titled car park and/or storage space.

From the 2020 land tax year, we assess the contiguous land for land tax unless you have consolidated the land containing your principal place of residence and the contiguous land into a single title. The Registrar of Titles must have registered the plan of consolidation by 31 December 2019 to ensure the consolidated title is eligible for the principal place of residence exemption for the 2020 tax year.

For more information about consolidating contiguous titles, contact Land Use Victoria.

If you did not consolidate the titles before 31 December 2019, your principal place of residence will still be exempt from land tax but land tax may apply on the contiguous land.

What does this mean for land in regional Victoria?

If your principal place of residence and the contiguous land is wholly in regional Victoria, these changes will not affect you. The exemption will continue to be available.

If your principal place of residence is in regional Victoria, and you have multiple contiguous lands inside and outside of regional Victoria, the exemption will only apply to those lands wholly in regional Victoria.

Regional Victoria means the regional councils listed below and the six alpine resorts of Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Mt Stirling, Falls Creek and Lake Mountain.

  • Alpine Shire Council
  • Ararat Rural City Council
  • Ballarat City Council
  • Bass Coast Shire Council
  • Baw Baw Shire Council
  • Benalla Rural City Council
  • Buloke Shire Council
  • Campaspe Shire Council
  • Central Goldfields Shire Council
  • Colac Otway Shire Council
  • Corangamite Shire Council
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Gannawarra Shire Council
  • Glenelg Shire Council
  • Golden Plains Shire Council
  • Greater Bendigo City Council
  • Greater Geelong City Council
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • Hepburn Shire Council
  • Hindmarsh Shire Council
  • Horsham Rural City Council
  • Indigo Shire Council
  • Latrobe City Council
  • Loddon Shire Council
  • Macedon Ranges Shire Council
  • Mansfield Shire Council
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Moira Shire Council
  • Moorabool Shire Council
  • Mount Alexander Shire Council
  • Moyne Shire Council
  • Murrindindi Shire Council
  • Northern Grampians Shire Council
  • Pyrenees Shire Council
  • Borough of Queenscliffe
  • South Gippsland Shire Council
  • Southern Grampians Shire Council
  • Strathbogie Shire Council
  • Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Towong Shire Council
  • Wangaratta Rural City Council
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • West Wimmera Shire Council
  • Wodonga City Council
  • Yarriambiack Shire Council

Purchase of a new principal place of residence

A dual principal place of residence exemption is available where an individual owner or eligible trustee purchases new land to be used as a principal place of residence but, as at 31 December of the year before the assessment year, the owner or vested beneficiary has not yet moved out of their existing principal place of residence.

In these circumstances, both the new principal place of residence and old principal place of residence will be exempt from land tax for that assessment year. However, the owner or trustee cannot derive any income from the new principal place of residence while it is not occupied as their principal place of residence in the year preceding the tax year.

This additional exemption may be revoked if the individual owner or vested beneficiary does not move into the new principal place of residence within 12 months of its purchase and use it as their principal place of residence for at least six continuous months.

Sale of an old principal place of residence

A dual principal place of residence exemption is also available where an individual owner or vested beneficiary has moved into a new principal place of residence but, as at 31 December of the year before the assessment year, still owned the old principal place of residence.

In this case, both the old and new principal place of residence will be exempt for that assessment year even though the owner or beneficiary is no longer living in the old principal place of residence.

The individual owner or trustee cannot derive any income from the old principal place of residence land while it is not occupied as their principal place of residence in the year preceding the tax year. The exemption may be revoked if the old principal place of residence has not been sold by the end of the assessment year for which the exemption is granted.

Changes in use affecting the principal place of residence exemption

When a person changes the way they use their principal place of residence, their eligibility for the exemption can be affected.

Absences from a principal place of residence

A principal place of residence exemption may continue or be granted where the individual owner or vested beneficiary is temporarily absent from their principal place of residence. This may be due, for example, to working interstate or overseas.

For this exemption to apply for a given assessment year, the owner or vested beneficiary must have either obtained a principal place of residence exemption or used the property as their principal place of residence for at least six consecutive months immediately before the absence and must satisfy us that:

  • The absence is only temporary.
  • The individual owner or vested beneficiary intends to resume occupation of the principal place of residence after their absence.
  • No other land in Australia is exempt as their principal place of residence land during their absence.
  • The rental requirement is satisfied.

The rental requirement is satisfied if the owner or trustee did not rent out the land for six months or more in the year before the assessment year during the period of absence.

From the 2021 land tax year onwards, this rental restriction will be replaced with a no income restriction. This means this exemption does not apply to a tax year if any income was derived from the land in the year preceding the tax year. However, this is subject to a transitional arrangement where the owner or trustee can still qualify for the temporary absence PPR exemption for 2021 tax year if they rented the land for six months or less in 2020.

This exemption does not apply if the land was unoccupied due to construction or renovation of a residence on the land. However, the owner of land can claim a refund of tax paid on the land when they moved into the residence upon completion of the construction or renovation – see below regarding s61 refunds.

This exemption is limited to six years from the date the absence started.

People who have lost the ability to live independently

The principal place of residence exemption is available where the individual owner or vested beneficiary is absent from their principal place of residence because they can no longer live independently and live full-time:

  • in a hospital as a patient, or
  • in a residential care facility, supported residential service or a residential service for people with disabilities, or
  • with a carer who provides care to the individual owner or resident vested beneficiary on a daily basis.

This exemption is not available if the individual owner or trustee rents out the land for six months or more in the year before the tax year, for all relevant years being claimed.

From the 2021 tax year onwards, this rental restriction will be replaced with a no income requirement. This means the exemption does not apply to a tax year if any income was derived from the land in the year preceding the tax year. This is subject to a transitional arrangement that, for the 2021 tax year, the owner or trustee can still qualify for the temporary absence PPR exemption if they rented the land for 6 months or less in 2020.

The exemption does not apply if the person has resided on the land under a right to reside and they move out of the residence because they have lost the ability to live independently.

Principal place of residence land that becomes unfit for occupation

Where land being used as a principal place of residence becomes unfit for occupation due to damage or destruction caused by a natural disaster (such as a fire, earthquake, or storm), accident or malicious damage, the exemption will continue as if the individual owner or vested beneficiary still uses and occupies the land as their principal place of residence.

The exemption is available for up to two years after the date on which the land becomes unfit for occupation as a principal place of residence. This period may be extended for an additional two years if the Commissioner is satisfied there has been an acceptable delay beyond the control of the individual owner or eligible trustee.

An exemption for land that is unfit for occupation is not available if other land owned by the individual owner or eligible trustee is eligible for the principal place of residence exemption.

Recently built or renovated homes on land subsequently used as a principal place of residence (section 61 refund)

Where a landowner or vested beneficiary is unable to occupy land as their principal place of residence because a residence was being built or renovated on it, the owner or eligible trustee is required to pay land tax while it is unoccupied.

Once they start or resume using and occupying the land as their principal place of residence for six continuous months, they can apply for a refund of up to two years of land tax paid during the time of construction or renovation. This is known as a section 61 refund.

The six continuous month period commences after the date on which the construction or renovation of the residence is completed. This requirement commences from the 2021 tax year and replaces the former requirement that use and occupation must commence in the tax year in which construction or renovation has been completed.

The application for a refund must be made before 31 December of the year after the year the landowner or vested beneficiary started or resumed using the land as their principal place of residence.

A refund of tax paid may also be available for up to two additional years if the Commissioner is satisfied there was an acceptable delay in starting or finishing building work which was beyond the control of the landowner. This is intended to cover delays caused by unexpected events, planning delays, damage or destruction.

To qualify for a refund for any of the years, the landowner or trustee must not have derived any income from the land in the year preceding the tax year for which the refund was sought. For a refund on the second, third and fourth years, the owner or trustee must also:

  • not have been eligible for an exemption on any other land as their principal place of residence, and
  • have been entitled to a refund of the immediate preceding year.

Failure to satisfy the six month occupancy requirement may constitute a notification default and result in the property being reassessed for land tax with penalties and interest.

If the property was being renovated, the renovations must be so substantial that the landowner or vested beneficiary could not live in the property during the renovation. The owner of land cannot claim the temporary absence exemption while they are constructing or renovating their residence on the land.

A partial principal place of residence exemption

Partial exemption if land is used for business purposes

Where a substantial business activity is conducted on land being used as a principal place of residence, an exemption will apply only to the portion of the land which is used exclusively for residential purposes by the individual owner, vested beneficiary or the person with the right to reside.

The apportionment is based on either the floor space of a building or land area. The Commissioner may consult with the Valuer-General regarding apportionment.

Partial exemption if a separate residence on principal place of residence land is leased

If the principal place of residence land contains a separate residence, such as a granny flat or bungalow, which is leased to a residential tenant, land tax will be assessed on the part of that land that is leased out to derive rental income or used to derive income from the provision of residential accommodation from the land in the year preceding the tax year.

The exemption will continue to apply if the owner of the land is only receiving a small or nominal payment for board or lodging, or where a family member merely contributes towards utility costs, maintenance, repairs or similar expenses for the property. These payments would not meet the ordinary legal meaning of the term ‘rental income’.

The exemption will only apply to the part of the land used exclusively for residential purposes by the individual owner, vested beneficiary or person with the right to reside.

Partial exemption or refund for trustees

Where only some of the vested beneficiaries of the trust reside at the principal place of residence land, an exemption or refund will be limited to the proportion of the land which the vested beneficiary, who uses the land as their principal place of residence, has an interest in and does not pay rent to the trustee for use of the land.

Example

Mark and Nicola are the vested beneficiaries in the Red House under a fixed trust. They have equal interests. Only Mark lives there. He is entitled to a land tax exemption on his 50% share of the value of the Red House. Nicola is not entitled to a land tax exemption on her share of the Red House.

Meaning of income

The term 'income' has its ordinary meaning for the purposes of this exemption. Whether a monetary payment is ‘income’ would be determined case-by-case, based on the facts of the matter. While several factors are relevant, none is determinative to the question of whether a payment constitutes income. Important factors include whether an arrangement has a profit-making character, the relationship between the parties to the arrangement and the scale of any payments being made.

Joint owners and the principal place of residence

For the purposes of the exemption, it does not matter if you own the land jointly with others.

If you use and occupy the land as your principal place of residence, your share in the property is exempt.

If my land is entitled to the 'main residence' exemption from capital gains tax, is it also entitled to the principal place of residence exemption from land tax?

The requirements for the 'main residence' exemption from capital gains tax, which is administered by the Australian Taxation Office, are not the same as those for the principal place of residence exemption, which means that you may not be entitled to both.

Apply for a principal place of residence exemption from land tax

Last modified: 8 January 2021
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