ATO Clearance Certificate

ATO Clearance Certificate

Navigating Property Transactions in Australia

Navigating property transactions in Australia can be complex, especially when it comes to understanding the legal and tax implications. One crucial aspect that property sellers must be aware of is the requirement for an ATO (Australian Taxation Office) Capital Gains Withholding Clearance Certificate. This document plays a vital role in transactions exceeding $750,000.00, affecting individual sellers, trusts, and superannuation funds alike. Understanding how to obtain this certificate and its significance in your property transaction is essential.

Obtaining an ATO Clearance Certificate

Obtaining an ATO clearance certificate is a crucial step for sellers in property transactions over $750,000.00 in Australia. The process begins with an online application. The Australian Taxation Office has streamlined the application process, making it accessible through their official website. It's imperative to apply as soon as possible, ideally as soon as you decide to sell your property. This urgency is due to the processing time, which can take up to 28 days from the date of submission.

When applying, each seller listed on the property title must complete an application. This means if a property is co-owned, each owner needs to apply separately. For trusts and superannuation funds, it's the trustee who must apply for the certificate using their tax file number and/or Australian Business Number (ABN).

Understanding the ATO Clearance Certificate

An ATO Clearance Certificate is a document issued by the Australian Taxation Office confirming that a 12.5% withholding tax does not need to be withheld from the sale of a taxable Australian property. This certificate is a key component in property transactions valued at $750,000.00 or more. It certifies that the seller has settled their capital gains tax liabilities, or is not subject to them.

This requirement, effective from 1 July 2017, ensures that the Australian government can collect capital gains tax from foreign residents. However, it's not just limited to foreign sellers; all sellers are obliged to obtain this certificate to avoid automatic withholding of the tax.

Without this clearance certificate, the buyer in the transaction is legally obligated to withhold 12.5% of the purchase price and remit it to the ATO. This process is a safeguard to prevent tax evasion and ensure compliance with Australian tax laws.

Settling Without an ATO Clearance Certificate

Settling a property transaction without an ATO Clearance Certificate is technically possible, but it comes with significant financial implications. If a seller fails to obtain this certificate before the settlement of a property sale, the buyer is legally required to withhold 12.5% of the purchase price. This amount is then paid directly to the Australian Tax Office.

This withholding serves as a mechanism to ensure that the capital gains tax obligations of foreign residents are met. However, it applies to all sellers, regardless of their residency status, if they haven't secured a clearance certificate. This means that as a seller, not obtaining the certificate can lead to a substantial reduction in the proceeds you receive from the sale.

Therefore, while settlement can occur without a clearance certificate, it is highly advisable for sellers to obtain one to ensure they receive the full sale price of their property.

The Importance of a Clearance Certificate

A Clearance Certificate from the ATO is essential for several reasons. Primarily, it serves as a testament that the seller has met their capital gains tax obligations, or is exempt from them, for the property in question. This certification is crucial for both Australian residents and foreign nationals involved in property transactions.

For Australian residents, obtaining this certificate ensures that they receive the full proceeds from their property sale without any withholding. For foreign residents, while they may still be liable for capital gains tax, the certificate clarifies the amount that should be withheld and remitted to the ATO.

In the context of trusts and superannuation funds, the certificate is equally important. It indicates that the entity holding the legal title to the asset, typically the trustee, is compliant with tax obligations. This compliance is assessed through their tax file number or ABN.

In summary, a clearance certificate is vital for ensuring a smooth, legally compliant property transaction, safeguarding sellers from unnecessary financial withholdings and legal complications.


Navigating the complexities of property transactions, especially concerning ATO Clearance Certificates, can be challenging. Understanding the need, process, and implications of obtaining an ATO Clearance Certificate is essential for any property transaction exceeding $750,000.00 in Australia. Whether you're an individual seller, part of a trust, or managing a superannuation fund, ensuring compliance with these requirements is crucial for a smooth transaction.

If you're in need of expert guidance or assistance in obtaining an ATO Clearance Certificate or any other conveyancing services, Pearson Chambers Conveyancing is here to help. With our expertise and dedicated service, we can ensure your property transaction is handled efficiently and compliantly. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for personalized support.

Contact us by calling 0421 058 106, email us at, or visit our website at Let us take the hassle out of your property transactions and guide you every step of the way.