Economist pours cold water on hot housing tax idea

A new investment tax measure designed to cool the red-hot Auckland market isn’t the answer to slowing the Sydney boom, according to an economist.

New Zealand this month announced a 33 per cent tax on investment properties bought and sold within two years in an attempt to get house prices and foreign investment under control.

However, Australia already has similar measures in place and so needs to consider different ways of getting the market back under control, according to Housing Industry Association senior economist Shane Garrett.

“We have a similar idea in Australia where if you hold an asset … for more than 12 months you receive a 50 per cent discount on your capital gains tax, which encourages people to hold on to assets for longer,” he told Real Estate Business.

“This rule, which has been around since 1999, penalises people for holding assets for less than a year.”

Mr Garrett said excessive taxation and a slow planning system helped explain rising property prices.

“There are massive amounts of taxation on building a property – infrastructure tax, GST, stamp duty and other various taxes – which means that of the final purchase price, about 35 per cent is accounted for by taxes.

“Also, the planning system is slow, so organising things like roads, sewage, water supply, telecommunications and broadband have become quite cumbersome in building a home.”

Mr Garrett said Sydney is the ultimate sellers’ market, with a lack of greenfields land reducing supply while low interest rates and strong population growth drive demand.

[Related: Sydney too hot for its own good, says John Edwards]



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