Revenue NSW (Formerly known as the Office of State Revenue) considers Family Trusts to be subject to the Foreign Persons Surcharge on stamp duty and Land Tax for any New South Wales residential property owned through the Trust, including Trusts that are based outside of NSW.
Revenue NSW has confirmed that they automatically apply the 2% foreign person land tax surcharge on properties where the title indicates that it is owned through a Family Trust.
Revenue NSW gives trustees 6 months (from the assessment date) to update their Trust Deed to remove foreign persons as beneficiaries. After the deed is updated, the trustee can then apply for the surcharge to be refunded.
In short, Family Trusts may have to pay the tax first and then apply for a refund (after they have updated their Deed), regardless of whether there is any history of the trust distributing to a foreign person.
The situation is slightly different for properties in other states held by Family Trusts. Victoria, Queensland and South Australia also impose foreign person surcharges on Stamp Duty and/or Land Tax, with Western Australia due to follow in 2019. Each state has its own legislation which deals with how these surcharges apply to Family Trusts and the legislation in each state differs.