Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Labour's Capital Gains tax to impact negatively on house prices

The impact on the economy of a 15% capital gains tax (CGT) proposed by Labour will be huge. Not only will all asset classes be negatively impacted directly but the 15% tax on rental housing will have a direct impact on the selling prices of the family home.

The 15% tax on rental housing will almost immediately affect that sector as shortly after election day investors would want to sell before the CGT is imposed in 2013. It is hard to tell by how much but in a depressed market with increased selling pressure you don't have to be Einstein to figure out it will be substantial negative impact.

The spill-off of that will be pressure from falling rental house values impacting on sellers of private homes. These are of course homes that kiwis generally have their biggest investment in.

Long-term a CGT and its impact on house prices may be debatable in terms of its influence but in the short to medium term it is economics 101 that prices for the family home will fall.

Given a more robust economy, sustainable rising house prices and good demand a CGT may not have been such a bad thing in terms of its economic kick but in the most uncertain economic times since the Great Depression a CGT has the potential to kick-off a major housing sell-off and a consequent drop in house prices.

The fallout from that is obvious. Less confidence in people's personal financial situation and a resultant slowdown in consumer spending and a loss of jobs.

Labour really need to think hard about this if they are lucky enough to gain enough votes on November 26. It may have support from left commentators like Gareth Morgan, Bernard Hickey and the hapless Rod Oram but it is probably more akin to an exercise in economic suicide rather than a good way to raise more taxes - especially given the tough times that we are currently facing and will continue to face for years to come.

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C c c Darren Rickard 2011

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