Roger Boghani

GST on Vacant Land: All You Need to Know

You just bought a piece of vacant land and wonder how GST applies. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many property investors need clarification about GST on vacant land purchases. But it doesn’t have to be complicated with the best accountant Melbourne

Whether you’re a newcomer to vacant land investments or a seasoned expert, understanding the GST rules is paramount for making informed decisions and optimising your returns. This comprehensive guide will unravel the complexities of GST on vacant land, empowering you to navigate the landscape with confidence and clarity.

What is Vacant Land?

Vacant land refers to undeveloped land that currently has no buildings or infrastructure. In other words, it’s open space available for development. 

This includes empty lots in residential neighbourhoods, unused farmland, and undeveloped commercial property.

Zoning Classifications

The specific zoning classification of a vacant land parcel determines what you’re legally allowed to build on—residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural are standard zoning types. 

Your local government/council sets the zoning standards and aims to regulate development to benefit the community.

Valuing Vacant Land

Several factors determine the value of vacant land, including:

  • Location: Land in desirable, high-growth areas typically commands the highest prices. Things like proximity to amenities, schools, and transportation hubs are considered.
  • Size and dimensions: Large rectangular-shaped parcels that can be quickly developed are usually more valuable than small, oddly shaped parcels. They are easier to build on, which means lower costs for the buyer.
  • Development potential: Vacant land with zoning that allows for commercial or high-density residential development will likely be worth more than if limited to a single home—the possibility of future profits factors into the value.
  • Access and utilities: Vacant land with access to infrastructure like roads, electricity, sewer lines, and water will cost more than undeveloped land without those utilities. Buyers must spend less to prepare the site for building.
  • Current market conditions: As with any real estate, the overall health of the local property market and economy determines what buyers are willing to pay for vacant land at any given time. Strong buyer demand translates to better prices for sellers.

Costs of Holding Vacant Land

Owning vacant land incurs several ongoing expenses that potential and current landowners should consider. These include but are not limited to:

– Ongoing borrowing costs: Interest on loans taken out to purchase the vacant land.

– Land taxes vary by location and the valuation of the land.

– Council rates: Local government charges for services which are applied irrespective of the land’s development status.

– Maintenance costs: Expenses related to keeping the land in good condition, such as managing overgrowth or preventing trespassing.

These costs can accumulate over time, especially if the land remains undeveloped for a prolonged period. Landowners should factor these into their budgeting and financial planning.

Claiming Deductions for Vacant Land

The ability to deduct the costs associated with holding vacant land on tax returns can significantly impact the financial viability of such investments. 

Generally, the expenses of holding vacant land are deductible if they were incurred to operate a business, such as farming, or to generate other assessable income. Recent regulatory changes, however, limit these deductions if the land remains vacant.

Landowners can still potentially claim these deductions if:

– An entity type unaffected by recent regulatory changes holds the land.

– The land is actively used in a business or is associated with a business activity.

– The land is held by a primary producer and leased to other entities.

For landowners, understanding these conditions and consulting with tax professionals can ensure they manage their vacant land holdings effectively, maximising potential deductions and minimising financial outlays. 

Understanding the implications of GST and other tax obligations when holding and developing vacant land is crucial for making informed investment decisions, ensuring compliance, and optimising financial returns.

GST Implications for Vacant Land Owners

GST implications for vacant landowners can vary depending on the usage and intention behind the land.

GST Registration and Treatment of Property Transactions

For owners of vacant land, understanding GST registration and treatment is crucial. If you engage in dealings with property, such as selling vacant land, you might be seen as conducting a business or undertaking a commercial venture, warranting GST registration. 

Post-registration, GST should be included in the selling price of any real estate, including vacant land. Adhering to standard GST rules enables you to claim credits for GST included in the cost of most business purchases. Remember, completing a business activity statement is necessary to report these transactions.

How GST Applies to the Sale and Rent of Vacant Land?

GST implications vary depending on the purpose and use of vacant land. If the land is sold as part of a business or with the intent of making a profit, GST needs to be factored into the price. 

However, you purchase vacant land to develop a residential rental property. In that case, GST does not apply to the rent you charge, nor can you claim GST credits on purchases.

Reporting and GST Credits

Reporting for GST involves completing a business activity statement, which is essential in adequately managing your obligations. This statement will account for GST collected from sales and GST credits on business purchases. 

These credits are crucial as they reduce the GST you must pay on your sales. They are available if the purchases relate to your business activities associated with the vacant land.

Subdividing Land

If you’re considering subdividing your vacant land into smaller parcels to sell, you’ll need to understand how GST applies. 

When land is subdivided into smaller lots for sale, each new lot is considered a separate supply for GST purposes.

Tax Implications and GST Obligations

Subdividing land can attract GST and other tax implications, mainly if the subdivision is intended to generate profit or is part of business activities. 

Upon subdividing, each new block assumes a separate title and becomes an individual asset that could be sold independently. If selling these blocks is done with the intention of profit-making in a business or commercial setting, GST should be charged on the sales and could allow for GST credits on related business expenses.

Capital Gains on Subdivided Land

When subdividing a block of land, consider the capital gains tax (CGT) implications. The original parcel, once subdivided, is treated as separate CGT assets. 

Capital gains or losses are realised only when the subdivided blocks are sold. The acquisition date for CGT purposes would be the same as when the original land was bought, and the cost base of the original land is reasonably divided among the new blocks.

Conditions and Privacy Rulings on Subdivided Land

Individuals can request information from tax authorities for private rulings regarding the tax implications of subdividing and selling land, especially to ascertain whether the activity is viewed as a profit-making scheme or a business operation. 

This helps us understand the nature of potential profits, whether they are treated as capital gains or ordinary income. 

Conditions also apply if the subdividing activity affects your primary residence, as only the sale of land with your principal residence typically qualifies for a primary residence exemption from CGT.

By understanding these critical aspects from the best accountant Melbourne, landowners can more effectively navigate the complexities of GST and its implications for property transactions and land subdivisions.


So, you will have an overview of GST and how it applies to vacant land. Navigating GST on vacant land involves understanding various tax implications, whether holding or transacting on such properties. 

As an investor or landowner, understanding GST rules can optimise your financial strategies and compliance. Remember that circumstances such as the intended use of the land, whether it involves business activities, and the nature of transactions (such as subdivisions) can significantly influence GST obligations.

For expert advice and assistance in navigating the complexities of GST and vacant land, trust Roger Boghani. Our team of professionals is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance tailored to your needs. Take control of your vacant land investments today with us!

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