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Labour plans to crack down on negative gearing

Written By: - Date published: 8:31 am, August 5th, 2016 - 130 comments
Categories: labour, national, phil twyford - Tags:

Twyford Labour

Labour has upped the ante on the homeless crisis by announcing plans to remove some tax exemptions for landlords. From the Herald:

Labour has confirmed it will introduce a policy to remove tax breaks on investment properties but aims to target speculators rather than small-time landlords.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford has released Inland Revenue figures which showed property investors claimed $650 million in tax write-offs on residential rental properties in the year to March 2015.

His party now plans to crack down on negative gearing, which allows landlords to claim tax deductions on their rental properties.

Labour will consult on its policy to remove negative gearing over the next few months and was aiming for a design to capture speculators rather than longer term, small investors such as those using a rental as a retirement investment.

That included considering options such a cap on the number of houses negative gearing could apply to and grandfathering the policy so it did not apply to current landlords.

When you add this figure to the $1.2 billion being paid out in accommodation supplements that is significant taxpayer assistance to the private landlord sector paid or surrendered each year.

Labour’s figures about the growth of ownership of multiple properties by landlords are eye watering.

New data on residential property investment shows a hefty increase over the last two years in investors with multiple properties. Since 2014 the number of investors with four or more properties is 29 per cent, up from 22 per cent. Those with five or more properties is 17 per cent, up from 15 per cent in 2014, and those with eight or more is 9 per cent, up from 6 per cent.

Of course the landlords will claim they are providing a civic service and without them where will tenants live?  If they actually constructed any houses they may have a point.  But I am not sure if they ever have.  Buying existing houses and then profiting by receiving a government handout and a tax benefit should not count.

There is no quick fix to the homeless crisis.  It has developed for a number of reasons.  One is because National is relying on immigration to bolster the economy.  Another is because of the doctrinaire reduction of Housing Corporation’s stock at a time when need is peaking.  A third is the attacks on beneficiaries a number of who are giving up seeking benefits.  But clearly favourable tax treatment for landlords has increased demand for the purchase of residential properties and this has increased house prices.

No doubt National will be running the figures to see if it can water it down and announce its own version.  Meanwhile tens of thousands of kiwis are homeless every night.

130 comments on “Labour plans to crack down on negative gearing ”

  1. Murray Simmonds 1

    “Of course the landlords will claim they are providing a civic service and without them where will tenants live?”

    Its not rocket science; “Without them” property prices would not be so high and many of their “tenants” would not be tenants at all, because they would be able to afford their own home.

    • Indeed.
      Or of course, they could be taxed fairly on their investment, deflating the artificially high prices in Auckland and Wellington, and people might actually be able to afford dry and warm houses if they want or need to rent.

      It is a little bit precious of the investor class to want to write off their losses against tax. Tell me, if I’m unemployed, can I get exempted for income tax later until I make up my losses? No, I get a stand-down period before our safety net kicks in, in fact.

  2. locus 2

    i worked out it was possible to get the NZ taxpayer to pay us for renting out our property…. incredible

    this is a really important step towards discouraging wealthy NZers from buying second or third homes – having tenants pay for the mortgage and the government pay for the maintenance costs

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Of course the landlords will claim they are providing a civic service and without them where will tenants live?

    In their own homes.

    Generally speaking landlords don’t provide a civic service – they’re just bludgers looking to get rich upon others work.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      No-one said landlords were providing a ‘civic’ service. It’s a business like any other. The biggest cost for any rental business is usually mortgage interest, and if Labour eliminates the ability to claim that against other income, then all that is going to happen is that the losses will accumulate in the rental business to be claimed back against future profits.

      In essence the total tax paid will remain pretty much the same over time. The entire LAQC/LTC regime was only ever justified as a cash flow smoothing mechanism, it doesn’t reduce the total tax paid.

      • mickysavage 3.1.1

        Thanks RL.

        There will be an immediate benefit through increased tax revenues and a good argument for a capital gains tax. That way those losses can be realised but tax on the profit paid.

        Part of the benefit is in making private rentals less attractive. WIth a yearly cost in the vicinity of $2 billion there are potentially some significant savings.

      • Ad 3.1.2

        Will Labour’s policy eliminate the capacity for the salaried income of one spouse to be used to pay for a couple’s rental property mortgages?

        • Lanthanide

          It’s unclear what Labour’s policy is.

          The part excerpted in this post doesn’t mention the magic word “ring-fencing”, it talks about “removing” negative gearing.

          But, ring-fencing of losses does mean that you can’t attribute it to other sources of income.

          • Ad

            If “ring fencing” such income from any other source of income were well policed by IRD, I think that would send a real shock through the small-to-medium scale landlords who have relied on it.

            Most of them over the last 15 years have relied on capital gain to get from their first to their second to get to where they are now. Great turnover, tiny if anything yield.

          • mikesh

            At the risk of sounding pedantic, I would point out that there is no such thing as “negative gearing”. Gearing is actually a ratio of two positive values (either debt/ historical cost, or debt/equity, depending on how one wishes to express it) and can never really be negative. I think the term to use should probably be something like “loss generating excess gearing”.

            • Lanthanide

              Words and phrases mean what the majority of the speaking population who use those words/phrases think they mean.

              Negative gearing is an established financial term.


              • mikesh

                Nevertheless the meaning of the term “negative gearing” is inconsistent with the meaning of the term “gearing” as used by accountants and financial analysts, and can therefore lead to confusion.

      • DH 3.1.3

        I think you’re mistaken there RedLogix. Most of the tax write-offs from negative gearing is by individuals who claim it against their income. AFAIK they can’t claim losses on future profits if the negative gearing was canned because they’re not making a loss.

        • RedLogix

          Most of the tax write-offs from negative gearing is by individuals who claim it against their income.

          Yes this is correct. But you don’t get to claim the loss twice. In other words at some time in the future when the rental company makes a profit, you get to pay full tax on the income then.

          If however the losses have been ring-fenced into the company, then over time they accumulate and can then be claimed against future tax.

          Not a lot of people realise this. And certainly it will give any govt that makes this move a short-term tax windfall, but over the long-term the end result is pretty much nil.

          • Peter Ch Ch

            Unless you keep the rent low and massage a loss into the financial statements each year and take your profit on capital gain. This way you would be able to never pay any tax as all the profit will be on tax free capital gains.

            For all the slagging off of National, remember that it was National government that scrapped the depreciation tax deduction on buildings. This was always a bit of gift as it guaranteed a tax loss even if making a cash profit.

          • Lanthanide

            Again Red, you’re assuming that Labour are talking about ring-fencing, when the part that has been excerpted here doesn’t mention that magic word at all. It says “removing” negative gearing.

            As in, if you get a $10,000 dollar loss one year, suck it up, too bad, you won’t be able to offset future gains by that loss.

          • DH

            It said $400 million of the tax write-offs were by individuals RedLogix. They’re not companies, there’s no ring-fencing there.

            I think the point was that many people rely on the tax refund to fully fund their property purchase. If they lose that refund many will be squeezed out of the market which I daresay is the objective.

      • Muttonbird 3.1.4

        No-one said landlords were providing a ‘civic’ service.

        Andrew King and others with property investors’ interests constantly imply just that.

      • Kevin 3.1.5

        Why SHOULD you be allowed to claim interest mortgage? I can’t on my home I live in, landlords shouldn’t be any different. Interest is just a cost of being in that business, no different to any other cost of being in business.

        • RedLogix

          The problem is that all other types of business claim interest costs against tax. This is perfectly normal; so what is the rationale for making the rule different for a rental company?

          In fact it would make more sense to allow home-owners to claim the interest against taxable income. After all if the opposite applies and you are earning interest income from a bank deposit you get to pay tax on it, so why not an exemption for interest costs?

          This is perfectly normal in other parts of the world.

          • mikesh

            Except that in the case of homeowners the interest doesn’t actually contribute to the acquisition of taxable income, an important qualifier, in the Income Tax Act, for deductibility. Of course it doesn’t contribute in the case of landlords either, but that’s another story.

            • RedLogix

              A very good point mikesh.

              Gareth Morgan’s response is that owning a home (or any other asset) is indeed a ‘benefit’ … and while it may not be in the form of cash income … it is the equivalent, and this is the basis of his Big Kahuna Comprehensive Capital Tax.

              • mikesh

                But it’s not, at present, a taxable benefit, and that’s what’s important when it comes to deductibility.

        • Peter Ch Ch

          Exactly! So like any other business you should be able to claim a tax deduction for any business expense, including interest.

          You cannot do this with the home you live in as younare not running itbas a business.

          • RedLogix

            Well many people are indeed running their home as a ‘business’, and making very good money from the capital gains.

            Here’s an idea; why not give people the option of either declaring their home to be personal and not subject to tax, or a business in which case they can claim costs like any other business AND pay the same capital gains and stock taxes that all other businesses are subject to.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.6

        No-one said landlords were providing a ‘civic’ service.

        I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard either a landlord or a representative body of landlords say exactly that.

        And I’ll point you back to this post:

        Secondly you have to wonder what contribution the individual concerned is making. Renting out existing houses to desperate tenants and playing World of Warcraft every day contributes nothing whatsoever to the society, apart from eleven families having to work harder just to pay the rent.

        And finally but most importantly this activity ensures that the rich become richer and the rest become poorer. If you accept the market is always right and this is an inevitable occurrence then you are probably fine with this. Of course the contrary argument is that everyone is free to engage in this behaviour but not all of us will own eleven tenanted Auckland residential properties. Just like a ponzi scheme it is a system where most people will inevitably fail and pay for the success of the few.

      • mikesh 3.1.7

        I think I would make interest non deductible for tax purposes; deductibility of interest is actually an anomaly in the Income Tax Act. ( It’s a capital cost lying outside the income generating process, and only those expenses which contribute to the generation of taxable income should be deductible.) If interest were not deductible then highly geared landlords would very likely find themselves facing a large tax bill at the end of each year, which would have to be paid out of other income.

        • Henry Filth

          Nothing should be deductible.

          It’s not deductible for me as an individual, why should it be deductible for a business?

          Time to level the playing field.

          • mikesh

            An expense should be deductible if it contributes to the production of taxable income. Investing in a property and letting it to a tenant produces taxable income so rates, insurance and R&M, expenses which are incurred as a result of such investment, are deductible. Interest, however, lies outside the business process and therefore should not be deductible.

            Presumably your own expenses are not producing taxable income.

  4. Michelle 4

    Labour also need to look at the accommodation funding paid to elderly people homes as the foreign providers are making millions out of housing our elderly many who are wealthy and have benefitted from a time when our country was prosperous and handouts and generous benefits and assistance was the norm during times of hardship.

    • Venezia 4.1

      Michelle……….Can you explain what you mean here? Are you referring to the Rest Home industry or Residential villages industry? If so, are you aware that in order to qualify for a Government residential care subsidy there is a limit on the value of TOTAL assets an elderly person can hold – $215,000 last time I checked. This includes the value of the unit that person lives in as well as assets held in a trust. My understanding is that most people who qualify for this subsidy have very few or any such assets. Whats more, the Residential villages separate out the care of subsidised residents operation, from their profit making arm (sale of Real Estate in the form of Occupational Rights Agreements), which is totally privately funded.

    • save nz 4.2

      Exactly Michelle. Not only that former council members seem to be selling off council land across the country to overseas groups to develop retirement homes. One of the biggest rip offs!

      Why not campaign on helping end the rip offs in retirement homes.

      And questionable sales of public land.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    If they go any further than ring-fencing of losses to future income from the same investment property, then this is directly going to flow through to increased rents.

    Also if they have a grandfathering provision, it will incentivise landlords to hold on to their existing properties and not sell them. There are some few landlords who do actually build new properties. But if any new built property cannot be negatively geared (as in, the losses simply evaporate forever), then there’s no incentive at all for them to be built.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Again … all that happens is those losses are accumulated over time and the ultimately reduce future tax liability when the company eventually returns a profit or sells for capital gain.

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        Red, you’re assuming that Labour is talking about ring-fencing. But the excerpt doesn’t use the magic word “ring-fencing”, it says “removing”.

        If we take it on face value, it would mean a loss in one year could never be reclaimed against future profits. This would have unexpected negative outcomes IMO, as I say in my comment #5.

        If they just mean ring-fencing, then I support that policy.

  6. save nz 6

    While this might be a completely valid idea, especially if it is designed to catch people with multiple rental properties, I’m just concerned that Labour does not want to talk about the elephant in the room, immigration and overseas speculation which is the reason for the huge increase in prices of houses in NZ. If they don’t want to talk about that, why bring up property at all? National’s strategy is to hide out all issues of property, so in the minds of the public Labour are the face of the problem.

    Sky rocketing house prices, is worldwide issue under globalism, nothing to do with NZ tax treatments at all because many western countries that have open property sales to international buyers, have capital gains and stamp duties (UK and Canada for example) have all had the same issues of prices escalating outside of the incomes of locals. The tax treatments is not stopping this. People want to get their money out of Asia, middle East and Russia in particular or migrate out of their home countries are contributing to global high house prices that do not reflect the incomes of the area.

    I think that many Kiwis actually like the high property prices. My concern is that like last election (that Labour should have won,) the idea of going towards a theoretical economy plan which is more of a 20th century plan than taking into account 21st century issues is just attacking the current middle class tax payers, who traditionally put all their eggs in the property basket and are most affected by any tax change. But the middle class are not the ones implementing the main driver to prices, immigration and foreign investment. So a free ride to newbies and more taxes to current tax payers as well as the prospect of homeowners paying $125,000 per house in infrastructure via their rates, to help house all the new arrivals.

    Those rich listers, globally based and those with tax havens earning 50 million plus get a free ride, while Labour ‘appears’ to put the boot into those on $70k – $300k paying tax in the country – while not receiving any benefits that help the working poor such as working for families, accommodation supplement and community services card.

    Labour needs to woo back those teachers, policeman, public servants, home owners, women and so forth to get above 25% in the polls.

    Labour’s current war on property, plays into the Natz hands, as they like to push the middle class against the poor and use that to blame for the countries woes.

    • weka 6.1

      Labour already have policies around overseas ownership and immigration, perhaps you could read them?

      • Sigh 6.1.1

        Yep. So many lazy, ill-informed but somehow angry people.

      • Ch-ch Chiquita 6.1.2

        But these policies are not highlighted enough. Labour needs to talk again and again about ending foreign ownership and stop low-skill-low-pay working visa and investment visas as it is hurting our econmy. Talking endlessly about the affordability of houses without also talking about immigration and our low wage economy is futile.

      • save nz 6.1.3

        Yes but why don’t they make it easy and put all their complicated policies into an easy policy together. Funny, people don’t have time to read ever changing policy especially when I last looked at the Labour website is said they want capital gains taxes, but Little said they didn’t?

        I’m going on recent media statements in interviews by Labour and sites like this one.

        The closest I have heard is the words ‘we need to address the demand side’ on their immigration policy. They talk about foreign speculators being banned but what about migrants and residents?

        In interviews they talk about building more homes. Something that homeowners don’t seem to want they way the unitary plan describes it and without any public transport in place, and does not really address the issues especially if you know anything about building and the costs associated with it. What’s the point building homes that local people can’t afford and then taxing them to drive to work as there is no usable public transport?

        • Hanswurst

          By “recent”, I can only assume that you mean something to the tune of this week or so, since they have talked about immigration a lot (whether you see that or Labour’s framing as a good thing is up to you, of course).

          In terms of “putting all their complicated policies into an easy policy together”, that seems rather counter-intuitive, since putting lots of things together usually involves making things more complicated, rather than less. That is precisely why parties release simple, individual policies, rather than trying to present the entire package at once.

    • xanthe 6.2

      You missed the really really bllody big elephant in the room which is that banks lend on the “value” of the property which is set by the historical lend on the “value” of property which is a closed loop “market forces” dont even get a look in , Its a scam by which large amounts of money is created as interest bearing debt which makes GDP look great but otherwise is all bad

  7. Siobhan 7

    I’m wondering if this also relates to commercial property?

    In small towns and cities, such as Hastings, Rororua, I can only conclude that there is some sort of ‘advantage’ to having empty properties. The main road is half empty, well maybe more like 20%, yet landlords seem happy to put up rent forcing, in some cases, long term tenants out. The shop then sits there empty, apart from the occasional pop up.

    This sort of thing makes rural towns an increasingly unattractive proposition, with no one wanting to move to them, and the locals fleeing. Yet, if the towns could ‘perk up, maybe it would help encourage businesses to move to the provinces…flow on effect…ease the Auckland housing situation.

    Why is no political party pushing for this?Why does everyone and everything need to be in Auckland??

    • save nz 7.1

      How will it affect negative gearing on farms. Farms often run at a loss, will that drive farmers more broke, and out of Kiwi control, or at the same time by leaving tax treatment alone are offshore residents and corporations buying up farms and then benefiting from losses?

      Globalism is making things a lot more complicated.

      They need to have different measures for local tax payers vs offshore avoiders or loss makers.

    • save nz 7.2

      I think empty shops is similar to empty houses. As the economy goes more global and into a corporate structure and as these get larger, individual properties become less and less important and decisions on these take longer and longer to make.

      An owner operator of a shop would probably be keen to get it rented asap, including dropping price, but a corporation owning a lot of properties would be interested in making sure prices did not fall and so holding on to their asking price.

      There are empty shops all around Auckland too, some in top streets – a lot of commercial property is Australian owned. But who know what the hell is going on?

      Internet has taken over a lot of retail, but my feeling is, that wages are now so out of kilter to cost of living that people actually can’t afford to start a business or even have disposable spending. So the only thing keeping everything going is new migrants who to get residency are buying a franchise business out of a shop. But with few locals able to buy and too many franchises/shops operating they are going bust.

    • Ch-ch Chiquita 7.3

      The same here in Christchurch. The cost of rent is killing us, trying to buy a property is next to impossible with lanlords asking out of the blue price and banks giving a hard time to small businesses when it comes to loans even though we are usually the ones to pay everything on time and to the last $.
      There are already too many office buildings with many standng empty and yet they keep on building more and more.

      • save nz 7.3.1

        I heard CHCH CBD developers have good friends in government in Chch, which is why some many things don’t make sense happening there.

        • save nz

          The other side to the coin is also wages are too low. How about Labour campaigning on increasing wages to a living wage and increasing wages in general.

          One reason that Kiwis are not productive at work is because they can’t really rely on work to pay enough for them to get ahead or keep up with the bills.

          So they go home and paint their own house, panel beat their own car and catch their own food. This all takes jobs out of the economy. So we have workers not very engaged at work, because they have to worry about job security and multitasking to stay ahead.

          In NZ everyone is measured on some weird standard of what others in that industry get paid. So if your job is minimum wage, you never get a pay rise. If you are the best barista in the world you may get a few dollars more, if you are the best at your job, in general there is very little extra renumeration for your troubles. The whole trickle down has meant that workers no matter how talented will not be paid much more than some arbitrary standard that is kept artificially down.

          However if you are a CEO people are paid to increase your remuneration internationally to keep us competitive so you get that $50k increase per month or year but the workers in the company get very little no matter what they do.

          It’s kinda anti trickle down.

    • NZJester 7.4

      The main reason some of the shops in the center of Hasting are becoming empty is due to council policy that seems to be shifting some of the CBD over into what used to be a sports grounds but is now the new location of The Warehouse and Mitre10 Mega. I’m told some of the older building in the CBD are a little dilapidated with leaks in their roofs. The fronts on most look all nice and shiny, but you walk down behind a lot of those shops and see some have peeling paint and rusty roofs and you will see why some that can afford to are moving to newer building out of the old CBD. There are some shops in the Hasting CBD however that the rot is now showing in the covers over footpaths in public view also and not just hidden behind the public-facing facade.

    • DH 7.5

      I couldn’t agree more Siobhan. I’ve looked frequently at moving the business out of Auckland but commercial rents & rates etc are way too high in the provinces. Residential property is cheaper but the business costs work out much the same as, if not higher than, Auckland and there’s little to be gained from moving

      • mikesh 7.5.1

        The introduction of a land tax might help since the burden of such a tax would be lower in the provinces where land is less valuable.

  8. Tom 8

    What sort of financial benefit will the government provide for renters who now get rent subsidies when they have to pay a mortgage.. In Nelson a typical rent on a $400k place woud be about $300 a week The mortgage on a $350K loan about the same plus of course you have rates, and maintenance to consider too

  9. srylands 9

    So labour just lost the votes of every owner of a rental property and everyone who aspires to own one.

    The NZPC has already concluded that no changes to the tax treatment of mortgage interest is warranted in New Zealand.

    It is like Labour is unaware that they actually need to win an election to be able to do anything.

    If any Labour policy announcement has the Nats laughing or cheering then it is bad. How about that for a test? And I can report that they are fucking laughing like drains.

    • BM 9.1

      It is like Labour is unaware that they actually need to win an election to be able to do anything.

      I have noticed that, it’s that complete disconnect with reality that I find disturbing.

    • Siobhan 9.2

      “It is like Labour is unaware that they actually need to win an election to be able to do anything.”
      But if Labour get into power on the basis of promises of doing nothing to dent landlord and property speculator expectations…then what is the point of changing the Government?

      It is often hard for Labour Centrists to understand, but Labour, like National, is a meant to be a party of ideology. And ‘principal’. For some reason considered dirty words in this day and age. Ironically so, given that we have a Government that is all about ideology even if it means letting the economy of the people flounder away to nothing.

      • srylands 9.2.1

        There is no point changing the government. You nailed it.

        Which is a pity because no opposition means that the current Government will become complacent. There are so many policy fronts where progress has stalled. Why on earth are labour strategists incapable of exploiting those failings?

        OH sorry last time I made that obvious point I was accused of “concern trolling”. As you were then.

        • Muttonbird

          Please list a few of these ‘policy fronts where progress has stalled’. I’ll be interested to know where you think the government is not doing a good job.

      • save nz 9.2.2

        Siobhan – you are aware that 65% of Kiwis still own homes? It is renters that are the minority.

        Labour in the post war years, built houses and gave loans so that Kiwis could own their own homes and also provided social housing to those that for whatever reason would probably not be able to own their own home.

        No one will have a problem with that policy – but once Labour start adding more taxes that could affect homeowners then complexity rises, messaging gets tricky and National pull out their tax cuts vs Labour’s tax increases.

        I want a change of government so just always point out the cold hard facts here, as people seem constantly mystified why people have stopped voting Labour.

        A case is the unitary plan debate.

        Unhappy home owner hates unitary plan because it is their community and they want a stake in it.

        Government rams through unitary plan by threatening Auckland council who were so incompetent in planning that their recommendations were thrown out. Luckily the ‘independent commissioners” who are not independent and appointed by the Council and government then put it back in again.

        Then Labour via Phil Twyford spends a considerable amount of time and media space saying what is wrong with the unitary plan but in the end says Labour supports it.

        Unhappy homeowner looking for someone to support them realises that nobody is in their corner either National or Labour and gets disenfranchised about the process and does not change their vote to Labour.

        National lead with Labour does it too.

        And they are right. Labour does support their bad policy an awful lot.

        And voters hate them for it.

        And next election, Labour will campaign to change the government and bring in a whole range of measures for additional taxing. National will campaign on not changing a thing and giving out a tax break.

        Who will the voters, vote for?

    • Ad 9.3

      Labour never had many votes from landlords. The great majority of New Zealanders loathe landlords. It’s a vote winner.

      The NZPC would conclude that paying for the rent from the extracted blood of the tenants’ firstborn raised above a burning fire to Baal, would need no changes, to maintain yield.

      • srylands 9.3.1

        You clearly have no idea about the mandate of the NZPC.

        • Ad

          Oh the Humanity! The mandate! The violins!

          Read their select committee submissions and weep.

        • tricledrown

          spurious claim srylands considering this government pulled its funding when its findings showed this govt was wrong on house price affordability being the main cause of economic stagnation in our largest city.

      • save nz 9.3.2

        AD, Yes but how quickly is that conveyed in a sound byte?? Or does it all sound very complicated. What happens to accidental landlords who go overseas and need to rent their place out? Do people really hate landlords and how many landlords or former landlords are there? Will the TV programs like renters (which shows how appalling some tenants are), the constant MSM about P in rental properties and the constant MSM articles about tenants trashing properties affect popular opinion?

        I actually think the negative gearing rule is a good idea for landlords that have more than 3 properties so that they do not get too big BUT in a post truth media landscape is it worth the risk? I don’t think any additional taxes accept to maybe overseas investors should be added.

        Labour should try more positive things to campaign on like ending pollution, poverty and diversifying the green economy to create jobs OR negative things about the government like corruption in NZ rising etc.

        Instead of campaigning on some Kiwi ‘speculators’ are the problem. Stop blaming the voters!!

        • Ad

          Nope, Labour is on just the right course here.

          The speculators are almost always landlords.

          Plenty more Labour could and should do, sure.

      • James 9.3.3

        “The great majority of New Zealanders loathe landlords.” – anything to back that up ?

        yeah – thought not.

    • Gabby 9.4

      Or, they’re happy to let the nastianals own their mess.

  10. mosa 10

    About feckin time.
    Don’t stop there Labour what about corporate welfare

    • srylands 10.1

      You mean the corporate welfare that the last government championed wasting hundreds of millions in subsidies to big corporates?

      I think you will find it has now been stopped.


      • Ad 10.1.1

        Would you like a list of the corporates this government has thrown my tax dollars at?

        Landlords are a drain on the productivity of our economy because it’s the wrong place to put scarce capital. They need every disincentive to sell up and put their money into the export economy.

        • save nz

          AD, you are not targeting corporates here, you are telling Kiwis where to put their money. In Auckland I have heard for 20 years about how property prices will fall – people want to put their money into something that works and they can control.

          Economists like Shamubeel have lectured Kiwis for years about what a bad investment property is, and he is wrong, wrong, wrong. And at the same time, I’ve had friends who went through divorces and took his advice and never bought waiting for the drop, friends who put off buying their first home, because of these so called experts, and now they are stuck and can’t afford to buy. Funny enough those that listened to the experts are more the National voters and those that are more liberal just went with their gut and bought anyway because they couldn’t stand renting. They vote more left.

          So nope I think if Labour goes with telling everyone what to do with their money and not to buy a house or pretend that Kiwis are the problem, they are going to get zero tick on polling day.

          Globally people have had a guts full of ‘independent’ experts who are not independent and not experts.

          And politicians who are stuck in last century.

          You may think people can work out the nuances in Labour’s property policy that is designed to protect home owners but I really think most people just get very emotional when they hear that issue in NZ. And Labour need the homeowner vote to win.

          • Ad

            Putting your money into property is right for those who have done so over the last few decades.

            It is precisely wrong for the country. And yes if I ruled the world I would re-weight NZ tax policy further and further away from property and towards products and businesses and services that make the whole of the economy rich.

            New Zealand is in this hole of being reliant on bulk commodities, property booms, and low-wage industries like tourism, precisely because of tax policy.

            • save nz

              Ad you can be right in theory but Rogernomics told everyone to look after themselves remember.

              There is no growth in jobs in this country. People are trying to save enough money because they can’t do it by working.

              Property may be wrong for the country but immigration without jobs and houses is wrong for the country too and why have property investment as an immigration criteria under National. Wouldn’t that be more of a soundbite?

              National sells off state houses while working Kiwis live out of cars!
              National lowers immigration criteria while giving residency to foreign property investors as working Kiwis live out of cars!

              Yep, I know that Labour is scared to play the immigration card and I understand why, but the irony is not lost on middle NZ when Labour are calling out Kiwis for a thrashing.

          • mikesh

            “Economists like Shamubeel have lectured Kiwis for years about what a bad investment property is, and he is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

            The purpose of investing is make profits or to save costs. At today’s prices Shamubeel is probably right,

            The seller of a property does nothing to earn any “capital gain” he receives so that gain would not count as “profit”; it is merely what economists would call a “transfer payment”, in other words it s a transfer of income, on which tax has already been paid, from one person (the buyer) to another (the seller). The world is no better off from the transaction so there is no “profit”.

  11. fisiani 11

    Labour can make all the announcements it wants to “soak the rich” but no one is listening. Only a government makes changes, oppositions just bleat so when most (56%) believe that we are heading in the right direction we will probably retain the current government perhaps for another decade.

    • Muttonbird 11.1

      Can’t work it out. RWNJs criticise the opposition for not announcing policy, then criticise the opposition for announcing policy.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.1

        Trolls just criticise the opposition on ‘principle’. If Twyford personally built 100 000 houses Fisi would still bitch about it.

        [Note to all: the word bitch is a trigger for auto-moderation. That means comments that use it are held in limbo until released or trashed. Can I suggest ‘moan’ as a better alternative in comments such as this one. Cheers. TRP]

        • Muttonbird

          Auto-moderation. Colouring the English language beige since ages ago.

          Perhaps you could code for the use of such a word as a verb as opposed to a noun. Maybe that would help. 🙂

          In fisty’s case I think ‘blub’ is the best fit.

        • mikesh

          Perhaps he should have said that Fisiani would “female dog” about it.

      • marty mars 11.1.2

        Lol right-wing fools think no one notices but we do thanks for highlighting that Muttonbird.

  12. weka 12

    What’s negative gearing? (if we want people to engage politically, then political concepts need to be made explicit not assumed)

    • save nz 12.1

      exactly Weka, most votes won’t have a clue, but National will let them know it is another tax.

      • weka 12.2.1

        I know how to use google thanks joe. I was hoping for an explanation in context.

        • Puckish Rogue

          I always thought it was borrowing more then the house is worth, at the time of sale, based on raising house prices making a profit

          But I’ve known to be wrong before

          • tricledrown

            paying more in mortgage payments than rental return.
            or overseas companies lending artificial loans that that give the perception that the NZ company makes no profit so pays no tax.

        • joe90

          In context – buy a $500k rental by loading the deposit, say 40% of the purchase price, onto an existing asset, in most cases a mortgage on the purchasers own home and financing the remaining 60% through a mortgage.

          Although the rental doesn’t cover total costs the purchaser makes up any shortfall from their own pocket but two years down the track the home is valued at say $700K and bingo, they’re $200K better off.

    • Lanthanide 12.3

      Owning a rental is just like a business. You only pay tax on a profit that you make. If you make 0 profit, there is no tax to pay. If you make a loss, then (for a traditional business), the loss can be “saved up” to be offset against future profits, reducing the tax paid.

      Eg, in year 1 your company makes $100,000 loss. In year 2 your company makes $10,000 loss. In Year 3 your company makes $150,000 profit. Instead of paying tax on the full $150,000 profit, you can bring forward the losses from years 1 and 2, reducing your *taxable* profit from $150,000 to only $40,000, and so you would only pay tax on $40,000.

      For rental properties, a loss in a given year can be offset against other income streams. So if I own a rental property, and after mortgage interest, rates and insurance, I made a loss of $10,000 this year, and my personal salary from my full-time employment was $80,000, then I can offset the $10,000 loss from my $80,000 salary. Throughout the year I would have paid PAYE tax on my $80,000 salary, but at the end of the year I can file a tax return and claim the $10,000 loss against my salary.

      This would bring my taxable income down from $80,000 to $70,000, and I’d be due a tax refund on the tax I paid on that $10,000, which at the 33% rate means I’m entitled to a $3,300 tax refund from the government.

      Negative gearing only exists for as long as the rental property is making a loss. Rental properties stop making losses when the rental return coves the outgoing expenses of mortgage interest, rates, maintenance, insurance etc.

      People use negative gearing to “buy a house now” where the rental returns do not provide a profit, offsetting the loss generated by the rental against their personal income. People purposefully buying a property with negative gearing are generally relying on capital gains to make the investment worthwhile (eg, the rental generates a loss of $10,000 for 5 years, but at the end of 5 years, the house is now worth $300,000 more than when you bought it). Claiming the rental losses against your personal income eases the costs involved in the negatively geared house and improves cashflow.

      Note, in all cases, it is better to have a rental that returns $10,000 profit than one that is break-even, or one that generates a $10,000 loss. But if it DOES generate a loss, then you can ameliorate some of the pain by offsetting it against your other income.

      Note 2, another way that a rental property can be negatively geared, as if it does not have any rental returns at all. Eg you buy a house and deliberately keep it vacant with no tenants at all. As Gareth Morgan said, “tenants just mess the place up”. This means your rates, insurance and mortgage interest are all costs, and there is no rental income to offset the costs. So the house is and will always be negatively geared, until such time as it has tenants.

      For the record, I own a rental property (through a series of unfortunate accidents) that returns a profit of ~$10,000 a year.

      • Puckish Rogue 12.3.1

        Good explanation although owning a rental property makes you evil, just so you know 🙂

        • Lanthanide

          Yeah, I know.

          I would prefer not to own this property, and saying “just sell it” isn’t the answer for me either, for reasons I am not going into on a public forum. If I could go back in time, then I would have made different choices such that I didn’t own this house.

          • Puckish Rogue

            Sometimes things happen and you just have to make the best of it (and I don’t think you’re evil for owning a rental)

          • save nz

            Yep, if it is leaky building, another National disaster they have somehow got off scot free over. Know property owners trapped with that one too.

        • tricledrown

          Bad PR how can it make you Evil if you are already.
          but I do agree but you left out the miserable factor as well.

      • corokia 12.3.2

        But can’t you also make improvements to the rental property and claim those as expenses?
        As I understand it you can. So even if the property market wasn’t going nuts, if you double glaze etc, you can claim a loss, reduce the tax on your main income and then, because there is no capital gains tax, you win again when you sell the property.

        Labour needs to get some nice clear sound bites to explain negative gearing and ring fencing.
        Make it clear- someone who owns one house that they live in can’t get a tax break from that house. Landlords can.

        • Lanthanide


          Improvements to a rental property are classed as capital expenditure. They are not tax deductible.

          So adding double glazing to a house with single glazing counts as an improvement, so is not tax deductible. It would need to be added to the capital value of the house, and depreciated as part of the house. Because the IRD changed the rules in ~2010 to prevent depreciation of houses, you can’t get any tax benefit from improvements / renovations to houses.

          If the house already had double-glazed windows, and a particular window was broken and had to be replaced with a new one, then that would be an operational expense, as you aren’t improving the asset, you’re returning it back to it’s previous condition.

          • corokia

            thanks for that Lanthanide

          • Graeme

            Yeah, it’s a bit arse about face that double glazing, or insulation, is a capital expense, which has to be depreciated, but the interest on the borrowed capital to buy the place is an operating expense that can be deducted 100%.

            Making the interest non-deductable would be a de-facto capital gains tax and remove the incentive for highly geared property speculation.

            • Graeme

              Removing the deductibility of interest would follow the same logic that makes financial services, which includes interest, one of the few things that are exempt from GST

            • Lanthanide

              If you take out a loan to pay for the insulation or double glazing, the interest on that lending is also tax deductible.

      • Ad 12.3.3

        For the record I’m a landlord as well.
        It’s a neurosis I’ve nursed into a pathology for years.

        • save nz

          That might be Labour’s problem – they overcompensate.

          They hate landlords because they are landlords. They hate Pakeha because they are Pakeha, they hate middle NZ because they are middle NZ.

          Labour need to own who they are – maybe there is nothing wrong with being Pakeha, middle class, property owners and shock, landlord.

          In my experience National voters love shares more, because they don’t have to deal with messy people, it would not surprise me one bit, if many landlords were Labour and Green supporters and the share traders were National voters.

          In fact it explains why Labour since they started attacking property in the last 4 years has not managed to get ahead in the polls.

          Stop the self loathing. We live in a country that seems to just have two main ways to invest, property and cows. If you don’t want to invest, then you are even worse off, relying on the state.

          • srylands

            Properties are left vacant for many reasons. It is the business of nobody except the owner of the property.

            I own a vacant property in Wellington. I stay in it about 2 days each month. Do you think I should be forced to make it available to others for the other 28 days of the month?

            There are places in New Zealand like Taupo that are full of people ‘s second houses. They are vacant most of the time.

            Again any policy like this will make a party unelectable. Is that what you want?

            • save nz

              The other issue about vacant properties is that people now often commute to work so they own a place close to work and have family home elsewhere. Aka Waiheke dwellers. That is due to costs, lifestyle and commuting issues.

              Or with so much work insecurity they are made redundant and have to move cities to work but can’t sell their old place which is either empty or rented. (Accidental landlord syndrome).

              So while trying to get rid of ghost houses you might just be taxing someone who is owns multiple houses, not for speculation but due to misfortune or just crap public transport or not being able to afford a big enough family house closer in.

    • mikesh 12.4

      In terms of the original meaning of the term “gearing”, the term “negative gearing” makes no sense. However the latter seems to have been coined to mean investing in something which runs at, or is expected to run at, a loss as result of relying on excessive borrowing with its attendant high interest costs. I prefer to call it “loss inducing excess gearing”.

      • Rocco Siffredi 12.4.1

        The term negative gearing means you borrow more money than would otherwise be economic and make a cashflow loss on the investment. That is then offset against other income to generate a tax deduction. This is done in the expectation that the capital gains long term will outweigh this loss over time.

        It is perfectly sensible as a term.

        • mikesh

          “Gearing” refers to the ratio of borrowings to equity, and therefore can, in itself, never be negative. An excessively high ratio may on some occasions contribute to a loss since it usually entails unaffordable interest payments; this is what seems to have given rise to the term “negative gearing”. However that term is a misnomer.

          If an investor borrows too much, why not simply refer to it “excess borrowing”?

  13. john 13

    Consequences are obvious:
    Either rents will rise. ( After all this is a business and profits are made or they go broke) At the moment the only profit is the risk of capital gain over a long period.
    Or properties will be left empty, as happened in London a few decades ago, when this kind of attack on landlords was done. It became cheaper to leave properties empty and unmaintained than to rent them out. personally saw 100’s if not 1000’s of rentable properties empty for years around the Elephant and Castle area.

    • Lanthanide 13.1

      John, that doesn’t make sense.

      The reason landlords can keep houses empty right now, is because they CAN use negative gearing to gain a tax advantage.

      Labour are proposing to stop people from doing that. That would mean landlords would not want to leave houses empty.

      • Gangnam Style 13.1.1

        “Attacking landlords” – cheers for the laugh!

      • john 13.1.2

        not the reason in London. At the time.
        Still, attack landlords ability to make money and the negative consequences will be severe.

        • Lanthanide

          I know that’s not the reason in London at the time, because what you’ve said doesn’t make any sense.

          You’re attacking a policy by Labour which has strong disincentives for landlords to leave houses empty, and saying it will instead encourage landlords to leave houses empty.

          It shows you don’t actually understand what you’re talking about.

      • Rocco Siffredi 13.1.3

        “The reason landlords can keep houses empty right now, is because they CAN use negative gearing to gain a tax advantage.”

        Would you care to show the maths on that? If a landlord leaves a property empty, on the average Auckland house they forgo $25-30k per year in income. How does that tax advantage outweigh that loss?

        If this practice continued for more than a very short time they would also have a very hard time avoiding paying income tax on any capital gains. That is a serious tax DISadvantage.

        • RedLogix

          And IRD would probably then ask whether the business was intended to earn a ‘taxable income’ and then start looking at the deductability of costs such as interest and maintenance. You are quite right; a domestic NZ based investor would have no reason to leave a rental empty; indeed it could be quite risky to do so from a tax perspective.

          However an overseas based investor, who paid for the property with several suitcases full of cash, might well have quite different motivations.

        • RedLogix

          And IRD would probably then ask whether the business was intended to earn a ‘taxable income’ and then start looking at the deductability of costs such as interest and maintenance. You are quite right; a domestic NZ based investor would have no reason to leave a rental empty; indeed it could be quite risky to do so from a tax perspective.

          However an overseas based investor, who paid for the property with several suitcases full of cash, might well have quite different motivations.

        • Lanthanide

          Read my other comment on negative gearing.

          It is always better for a rental to make a profit, or be neutral, than for it to make a loss – all else being equal.

          But, all else is not equal – renting a house out means you have increased maintenance to account for, and the risk of tenants trashing the place etc.

          Negative gearing allows you to recoup (normally) 33% of any loss that would have been generated from the activity. When Auckland house prices are going up $1,000 per day, the loss of $500-700 in week rental, of which you recoup 33%, is small beans.

          Ring-fencing or removal of rental losses makes this a less tenable proposition.

    • Ad 13.2

      A landlord who deliberately leaves their property vacant during this scale of housing crisis should have it compulsorily managed for the homeless by the local Council. I’m pretty confident a future Auckland Council would look at this seriously.

      • save nz 13.2.1

        I’m sure you’re right AD, but again vote killer!! Can just see some Kiwi, goes off on holiday and comes back to find council has seized house. Not sure homeowners will like it.

        Property rights for Kiwis are like Gun rights for Americans.

        • save nz

          Also AD, in case you may not live in Auckland, our National government appointed, Supercity council could not manage it’s way out of a paper bag, let alone a crisis.

          I can guarantee you in 5 years there will be complications and litigation aka leaky building from their crappy planning with the unitary plan and poor consents that have been rushed through and are too complicated and poorly designed for purpose.

          Metro water and other assets will be part privatised in some weasel words deal that will be a PPP or some such way to describe the same thing.

          Many liberal Aucklanders will leave the city (already happening) voluntarily or be priced out, and push up prices else where while migrants will fill the gap and vote National.

          Auckland will not attract talent or create jobs, it will be the migrant women, children, students and elderly that live in Auckland. Main breadwinners will be offshore. So economically NZ will be worse off as state services struggles with the additional population growth.

          The National Auckland strategy completed, to be started in other cities.

      • srylands 13.2.2

        Properties are left vacant for many reasons. It is the business of nobody except the owner of the property.

        I own a vacant property in Wellington. I stay in it about 2 days each month. Do you think I should be forced to make it available to others for the other 28 days of the month?

        There are places in New Zealand like Taupo that are full of people ‘s second houses. They are vacant most of the time.

        Again any policy like this will make a party unelectable. Is that what you want?

  14. b waghorn 14

    “Labour has confirmed it will introduce a policy to remove tax breaks on investment properties but aims to target speculators rather than small-time landlords.£

    And just like Labours failed cgt policy they will over complicate the policy so key can take it and smack them around the head with it.

    • Lanthanide 14.1


      They just need to go with ring-fencing. Everyone understands it, it won’t have too much in the way of negative consequences, it will discourage the practices that are most abhorrent (deliberately keeping a house vacant).

  15. James 15

    Whilst at first glance I thinks its a good idea – I can see the following happening.

    The cost goes up for landlords – as such they increase rents.

    Grand-fathered rental properties – the owners see rising rents for “new rentals” going up and raise their rent for increased profits.

    • Lanthanide 15.1


      Grand-fathering also means people who own the houses, will be much less inclined to sell them because once they lose that benefit they won’t be able to get it back again.

      That means first home-buyers will be permanently shut out of a greater share of houses, the ones that tend to be older and therefore cheaper / more affordable.

  16. srylands 16

    Here is a question for the Labour caucus. Some of them own rental properties. How many of them don’t claim mortgage interest as a business expense? After all it is not compulsory!

    I expect the answer would be embarrassed shuffling of feet.

    I wonder what Helen thinks of this policy? Wealthy landlord extraordinaire!

    • James 16.1

      Its OK – they are suggesting grandfathering their own investments in – so they will be OK.

    • b waghorn 16.2

      Why stop at labour , do you structure your affairs to avoid as much tax as possible.
      ye who is with out sin, and all that

  17. Leftie 17

    Weren’t people calling for a crack down on negative gearing?

  18. AKL85 18

    Most comments make no sense people buying rental property use equity from their own home. I have done this myself and I have bought a rental property for the long term investment in my retirement. People like myself actually keep prices down as we also want to make rents affordable and are not using it as a main income stream. We also therefore now priced out of the Auckland market as equity would not be able to cover the deposit so we have gone outside of Auckland in order to purchase something affordable with a rental income to cover our costs. If negative gearing was removed rents would rise to offset costs and taxes paid on the rental income. Small landlords like myself have had this opportunity due to our hard work and good fiscal management to buy a first home and then make use of equity. Most people complaining now that they can’t afford to buy are just cry babies and no matter who is in government or who we vote for people need to change their habits and have better fiscal management, go have a look at the shopping centers in Auckland on an average weekend they are packed lots of people buying useless junk they don’t need. Most people are really just blaming the government for their own mistakes. Good example early this year there had been a news paper article about a couple with a very good 6 figure income crying out saying they can’t afford to save the deposit for a home but can afford the expensive rental in Freemans Bay etc. etc. have a look at Ponsonby Road on a Sunday morning how many young people are having breakfast at eye watering prices. People fix your spending habits and start making better decisions and you will be able to get there one day. Also important to mention is most people are very picky with where they wish to live. Buy something affordable you can move up from in future, property is after all a stepping ladder.

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