ATO to target illegal foreign investment

FOREIGN investors trying to dodge tax liabilities will be targeted under a data matching program.

The Australian Tax Office has expanded its data matching program, which checks tax records against electoral roll information, to include the foreign investment framework.

A tax office spokeswoman said the program covered some 15 million Australians and the expansion was a result of recent changes to electoral regulations.

She said the ATO had expanded the use of the program to include "administration of Australian foreign investment framework" and "we determined that data matching ... was now required".

It comes amid a wider crackdown, led by Treasurer Scott Morrison, on illegal foreign investment in Australian property.

Those changes include tightening the rules around major foreign investment in Australian infrastructure and taking back more than $10 million of real estate bought illegally by foreign investors.

But despite earlier pledges to ensure a new register of foreign investment in agricultural land would be made public, the government backflipped on that commitment earlier this month.