In the days since the Government Tax Working Group announced its recommendations, there has been a lot of discourse on them. Some of the discourse has been highly constructive, but there has also been a lot of ideological, emotionally driven commentary which has ignored the subject matter.
In light of that I have tried to write an analysis that is politically neutral.
It is important to note that New Zealanders buy property as an investment because it is one of the few ways of developing ones own wealth, without a significant tax measure applied. When I say an investment I am not talking about the family home, something everyone would like one of to be their own. Nor am I talking about the holiday home that might be a crib on land with a total value of $100,000. Rather I am mentioning properties that are going to be used in the rental market and have active tenants paying rent/board.
The idea of owning a rental property permits the owner to have control of the house and be paying off any mortgage that they might have without actually having to use their own funds.
The more properties of this nature that they own, the great the return per week from tenants. When the landlord exits the market and sells all of their properties, they are able to take all of the appreciation without having to pay taxation on it. Not surprising then that people with a bit of money to spare have flocked to the New Zealand market, invested in properties. However this has had a down side as in turn it has driven up property prices, which have forced a number of potential buyers from the market. In order to pay for those properties or gain appreciation on them, the matching rents have risen as well, which has put the squeeze on those with limited income means.
Contrast this with putting their savings into something like the share market or a long term deposit in a bank account, where it can be taxed. The share market obviously has a degree of volatility reflecting the trading environment of the day. How well the shares do depends on how will the company performs publicly – oil companies for example experience fluctuations in oil prices depending on the ability to supply the market, geopolitical conditions in the Middle East.
In terms of the long term deposit, the holding bank announce . However interest rates have stayed very low since the Global Financial Crisis, making it difficult to accrue significant interest. Some banks have interest rates so low that they are what I call acidic in that one actually starts paying the bank to have ones money invested in them, and the net outcome is a loss. The taxation of these methods of developing ones wealth poses a question:
If they get taxed, then why should the method of wealth development that is owning secondary properties for the purpose of money gain not subject to tax?