11 Sep 2015

Foreign buyer data to be collected by Govt

5:12 am on 11 September 2015

Parliament has cleared the way for the Government to start collecting information on foreign property investors.

An auction hammer.

Foreign buyer data will help the Government better understand the property market, it says. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

From October, overseas buyers of resident investment properties will have to have a New Zealand bank account and IRD number.

The new tax bill brings into effect the Government's Budget announcements, to clamp down on the purchase of residential land for speculative profit.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston told Parliament the data would help the Government better understand the residential property market and inform its housing policy.

From October, buyers and sellers will have to provide their IRD number and other details when transferring property - unless it is, or will be, their main home.

But New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau said the bill would do nothing to cool some overheated housing markets.

He said it seemed like a waste of time when the Government's own experts that the legislation would not increase tax take or put any sort of stymie on overseas speculation in the market.

Labour Party finance spokesperson Grant Robertson called the law the ultimate in window dressing.

"It's deliberately being put forward so that it will fail to achieve the goal that the Minister just told us she had, of more information about who's buying and selling houses in New Zealand."

Mr Robertson told Parliament the legislation was announced at a time when the Government was under pressure to do something about the housing market.

That comment prompted this reply from National MP David Bennett.

"This Government has done something, and it is more than the Labour Party ever will do.

"The property market hasn't just created itself, it's been going on for many years."

The bill passed its third and final reading on yesterday by 108 votes to 12, with the support of all parties except New Zealand First.

Legislation to introduce a capital gains tax on residential properties bought and sold within two years is still going through Parliament. It is expected to be in place from October.