Is Negative Gearing for me?

Negative Gearing can be described as an approach to investment whereby losses recognised against one investment can be offset against other income, with the effect of reducing one’s overall tax. In Australia, it generally refers to residential property investors who can offset losses on an investment property (or properties) against their regular PAYG income.

Negative gearing is most valuable to taxpayers in the highest tax bracket, as their allowable tax deductions are worth more cents in every dollar.  Take the following examples:

Example – Anthony

Anthony is an Engineer, earning a gross annual salary of $75,000. He decides to purchase an investment property with the following estimated financial results:

Rent Received                                 $20,000

Interest Payable                              $18,000

Repairs & Maintenance                 $2,000

Management Fees                          $1,000

Depreciation                                    $2,000

Total                                                  ($3,000)

Anthony can offset the $3,000 loss on his investment property against his $75,000 income, meaning his Taxable income for this purposes would be $72,000 (leaving aside Medicare and any other allowable deductions). With his marginal tax rate of 32.5c in the dollar, Anthony can reduce his tax bill by $975. Thus he is out of pocket $2,025 in that year.

 

A person on the highest marginal tax rate will benefit more from the same scenario as the following example shows.

Example – Darrell

Anthony’s boss Darrell earns $200,000 per year and has also decided to purchase an identical investment property to Anthony, with the financial results exactly the same:

Rent Received                                 $20,000

Interest Payable                              $18,000

Repairs & Maintenance                 $2,000

Management Fees                          $1,000

Depreciation                                    $2,000

Total                                                  ($3,000)

Darrell can offset the $3,000 loss against his taxable income (again leaving aside Medicare, levies and other allowable deductions). With his marginal tax rate (highest tax rate) of 0.45c in the dollar he reduces his tax payable by $1,350. Darrell is therefore out of pocket $1,650 on the same investment.

Opponents of Negative Gearing will argue that the additional tax benefits available to investors (versus owner occupiers) such as the ones outlined above mean they cannot afford to compete in the marketplace for the same properties.

Supporters of Negative Gearing argue that the tax deductibility of losses means they as landlords can charge lower amounts of rent, therefore making that housing more affordable to tenants. Developers contend that without investors they would lose demand for their properties and consequently supply would slow down supply, perversely resulting in higher prices anyway!

Whatever your position Negative Gearing is currently an effective and legal way to invest in property, however incurring a loss on property should not be your primary reason to invest. The tax effect of investing in property should be a consideration, but not the only one.

Speak to your Accountant to determine whether negative gearing can work for you. If it is, get in touch to arrange the necessary finance, I can help with determining your borrowing capacity and pre-approvals before you start looking for an investment property.