A mid-tier accounting firm has criticised the government’s efforts to address the housing crisis and suggests making the capital gains tax-free for investing in affordable housing.
William Buck tax director Greg Travers said that neither the government nor the opposition are “bold enough” in their actions to address Australia’s housing crisis.
“In particular, the budget measures intended to encourage investment in affordable housing will do little to change the investment decisions of ‘mum and dad’ investors,” Mr Travers said.
“The government needs to appreciate that investing in affordable housing means lower rental income and lower capital growth. It needs to be as financially attractive for someone to invest in affordable housing, as compared to investing in any other residential property. This is where tax policy can help.”
Mr Travers said the government should look to further alter the CGT discount to encourage investment in affordable housing.
“A key reason for introducing the CGT discount was to encourage capital investments. Modifying how the CGT discount operates will change the way people invest. Increasing the CGT discount is going down the right path, but an increase from 50 per cent to 60 per cent is not enough to change the investment decisions,” he said.
“Our bold suggestion: increase the CGT discount to 100 per cent for affordable housing held for 10 years or more. Make the capital gain tax-free. This will move investment in affordable housing from being a marginal investment decision, to being very attractive.”
Mr Travers also suggested reducing the CGT discount on other residential properties from 50 per cent to 40 per cent or lower, or require a property to be held for five years, rather than one year, before the CGT discount applies.
“This change would temper investment into residential property, and reduce speculative investment decisions. It would also help balance the impact on the budget,” he said.
“That is an intelligent policy decision. That is bold, and would start to change people’s investment decisions.”