Understanding tax residency data

We collect tax-related data when people buy, sell or transfer property pursuant to the Land Transfer Act 2017. In addition the legislation requires us to ask questions that help inform housing policy. This information is collected through a tax statement.

The information provided on each tax statement is confidential to the buyers and sellers, and to Inland Revenue, so may only be released by us in a summarised form.

This page presents a summary of the information provided on these tax statements.  Information on the size or value of the property being transferred is not included in this report as this is not collected in the tax statements.

Tax residence is not the same as nationality. An overseas tax resident may be a New Zealand citizen (such as someone working or travelling overseas). Or they may be an overseas citizen who lives and works in New Zealand, but is counted as overseas for tax purposes.

This document is not a register of foreign ownership of residential or other property. It reports the tax residence, citizenship and visa status of the property buyers and sellers (there can be more than one per property).

These numbers will be produced quarterly

To ensure we protect people’s privacy, detailed statistics in the report are presented by quarter. The report also includes supplementary information, which gives a breakdown of transfers by Territorial Authority, by Local Board area for Auckland, and also provides a full list of countries where tax residency was claimed.

To preserve buyers’ privacy the supplementary information covers a six month period, and we do not show information if there are fewer than nine transfers in a Territorial Authority. If we provided the breakdown of transfers by quarter, a significant number of the transfers would not be shown, so the six-month data is more informative.

Not just selling and buying property 

These statistics show property transfers. Transfers include buying and selling property, but also property that is transferred without a sale, for example, changes of trustee.

The way these statistics are collected means we can’t distinguish between sales and transfers, or between individuals and trusts.

One property doesn’t always mean one buyer or seller

A property transfer isn’t always between one person and another. It could involve:

  • multiple buyers and/or sellers
  • a trustee changing
  • a company buying, selling or transferring property. 

Organisations such as CoreLogic and the Real Estate Institute record sales figures rather than transfers, and use different dates for recording when these occur. Our figures are based on the date that registration of the property was completed, while CoreLogic uses the date of the original sale and purchase agreement. We estimate that approximately half of transfers involve a residential sale. 

Tax residency is not the same as residency or nationality

Some statistics refer to tax residency. This is not the same as nationality.

You can live in New Zealand and have tax residency in another country. Alternatively, you could be an overseas citizen and have only New Zealand tax residency.

An individual is considered a New Zealand tax resident if they:

  • are in New Zealand for more than 183 days in any 12-month period, or
  • have a 'permanent place of abode' in New Zealand, no matter how long they may have been out of the country.

The tax statement requires a New Zealand IRD number, and if the person is tax resident in another country they must identify that country and give their tax number for that country. For this report, we’ve assumed that where a party hasn’t claimed overseas tax residency they are a New Zealand tax resident.

Transfers can also involve combinations of New Zealand and overseas tax residents. If any single party to a transaction stated overseas tax residency, that transfer was counted as having overseas tax residency.

Tax residency, residency and nationality aren’t a neat fit

Here are some examples.

  • John and Emma are New Zealanders who have moved to Australia, but are in the process of buying an investment property in Wanaka. They are required to declare their Australian tax residency. 
  • Mark, a New Zealander and Steve, a US citizen who may or may not be a New Zealand tax resident, purchase a house in Miramar together. Steve is required to declare his US tax residency. 
  • The Changs live in Shanghai but have children attending Victoria University in Wellington. They purchase a house in Wellington so that they have a base in New Zealand, and accommodation for their children. They will be required to declare their Chinese tax residency.

Affiliation, home ownership, and intention to occupy

We have also asked questions about buyers and sellers citizenship, residency and intention to occupy a property. These are to gather information to inform housing policy.

These questions are aimed at individuals and an option is available to identify as a corporate.

Overseas Investment Office consent is needed for some sales

If overseas residents want to buy ‘sensitive’ land, land of a certain value, location, or size, they need consent from the Overseas Investment Office first. If they get this consent and are successful in purchasing ‘sensitive’ New Zealand land, they would then need to go through the transfer process. This means that their transfer will be included but not readily identifiable in these statistics.

Not all property transfers require the supply of tax information

In some circumstances the buyer or seller didn’t need to provide their IRD number or tax residency. Some examples are:

  • If the property involved is Māori land, or land transferred as part of a Treaty of Waitangi Settlement, no tax statement is required.
  • When the property involved is Crown or Local Government land, a tax statement is required, but not an IRD number.
  • When the transfer is a distribution by an executor, administrator, or trustee of a deceased person’s estate to a beneficiary who is beneficially entitled to receive the property under the will or the rules governing intestacy a tax statement is required but no IRD number.
  • If the sale of land is compulsory, such as mortgagee and court ordered sales, a tax statement is required but no IRD number.

Statistics quoted in this document

All statistics quoted in this document have been randomly rounded with a method used by Statistics New Zealand to protect privacy. Individual figures may not add up to totals, and values for the same data may vary in different text, tables, and graphs. All statistics are from land transfer and tax statement records collected by Land Information New Zealand under the Land Transfer Act 2017 (and formerly the Land Transfer Act 1952), and the Land Transfer (Land Information and Offshore Persons Information) Exemption Regulations 2015.