The difference between negative and postive

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The difference between negative and postive

By Michael Janda Updated September 24, ABC News Property groups want us to believe that average income earners dominate property investment and negative gearing - a closer look at the statistics shows that's a furphy, writes Michael Janda.

There's no doubt that a lot of ordinary, average-income Australians own investment properties, many of which are negatively geared.

If you aren't a property investor yourself, then there's a good chance you know plenty of them, and run into them incessantly at weekend barbeques, weddings, on the golf course, or at a range of other social functions.

That's not surprising, because Tax Office statistics show there are almost 1. That's one of the key justifications trotted out for maintaining the current negative gearing regime - that it overwhelmingly benefits ordinary, average-income 'mum and dad' investors.

When the HIA made that claim again this week upon releasing an economic report in defence of negative gearing, it set off my bull-dust detectors big time. So I went to the source, the ATO's tax stats, to find out the truth. For those who argue that negative gearing isn't overwhelmingly the domain of society's better-off, the truth hurts.

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Investment housing debt by income percentile Figures compiled by the Reserve Bank from that survey show that investment housing loans are, unsurprisingly, more than twice as common amongst the top fifth of highest-earning households than amongst any other income group.

That got me thinking about the apparent discrepancy between the RBA data and the tax stats - such a large survey as HILDA surely couldn't have got it that wrong.

An obvious issue with the HIA's use of the ATO data was that it looked at taxable income - after people take out various deductions to lower their tax bills. That takes the HIA's claimed 74 per cent, which is 72 per cent on the latest data, further down to 68 per cent.

That's when I found the ATO's Excel tables that look at what taxable and total incomes people have declared who collect rent from investment properties.

Who's in negative territory? They could be people who own a property, are losing money on it, but are living off their partners' incomes; they could be people living off savings whose rental losses outweigh any investment income they earn; they could be superannuants drawing on now non-taxed drawdowns and pension streams; maybe they have some sophisticated trust structures which mean they can pay the bills while apparently earning no money.

Or they could be foreign investors. Rental income or losses are the only earnings that non-resident foreign property investors are likely to have to declare to the Australian Tax Office, as their wages, profits or other investment earnings are likely to be sourced overseas.

So take them out of the HIA figures and you are now down to That's already a fair bit less than three-quarters, but still more than the HILDA figures would seem to suggest.

Again, it is highly unlikely that these people could survive if that was their genuine income level, let alone service the mortgages that theof them who are negatively geared have. That's because the ATO's measure of "total income" includes net, not gross, rent - that is, rental earnings or losses after deductions such as interest payments have already been removed.

The difference between negative and postive

The net result of all these calculations could be boiled down to a 'fact check' of the HIA's statement, and the outcome would be 'massively overstated'. Income by itself is also an incomplete measure of whether these are 'average' Australians - wealth is just as important as income when considering the equality of tax measures.

Given that superannuation drawdowns aren't counted either, it is certain that many of these superannuants are exactly the "so-called wealthy investors" that the HIA claims the tax figures show are so few in number.

A lot of this group may no longer be utilising negative gearing, but it will have undoubtedly assisted them in building up the assets that will give them a comfortable retirement. For all these reasons, the HILDA data - used extensively by the Reserve Bank - is a much more reliable measure than the Tax Office data on what type of household gets by far the biggest benefit from negative gearing, and it ain't the poor.

Michael Janda is an online business reporter with the ABC.Photosynthesis in a leaf: Chloroplasts, Grana, Stroma, and Thylakoids, the starting point for energy's travels through life.

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Science and . Property groups want us to believe that average income earners dominate property investment and negative gearing - a closer look at the statistics shows that's a furphy, writes Michael Janda.

School Numerous products are available for school personnel, parents, and care-providers, all with the promise of erasing targeted behaviors. Unfortunately, no magic wand single-handedly works to remove the barriers to learning that occur when behaviors are disrupting the learning community.

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I took Sam-e for about a year while back and found it very helpful. It had no side effects except that I had almost too much energy. You have to think about it--if you have been depressed and now have energy, you need to have a plan to develop the social skills and goals to .

The myth of 'mum and dad' property investors - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)