The tax approach known as negative gearing is frequently utilized by property owners here in Australia. By claiming a tax deduction for losses that were suffered from an investment property, it is possible to effectively reduce the amount of income that is taxable.

This strategy has caused substantial controversy in the sphere of Australian tax policy, with critics stating that it disproportionately benefits persons with higher levels of wealth and adds to distortions in the housing market, while advocates claim that it encourages investment and improves the supply of homes.

For the entirety of Australia’s economic history, officials have experimented with different variations of the regulations that control negative gearing. Notably, only temporary change took place in the middle of the 1980s, which resulted in widespread uncertainty and upheavals in the market.

This article investigates the period in which negative gearing was finally eliminated in Australia, as well as the reasons behind its implementation and the effects it had on the real estate market and the economy as a whole.

With a better grasp of this pivotal period, we will be able to obtain a better understanding of the intricacies of tax policies and the long-term consequences that they have on the housing scene in Australia.

When Was Negative Gearing Abolished In Australia?

Australia briefly did away with negative gearing in the mid-1980s. Particularly, in 1985, the Australian government, comprising Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating, amended negative gearing.

The possibility for real estate investors to deduct losses from other taxable income was eliminated as a result of the amendment.

Unfortunately, negative gearing was only abolished temporarily. Negative gearing of properties was allowed again by the government in 1987.

A reintroduction was in part motivated by worries that the initial decision had caused a decrease in investment in rental properties, which in turn had contributed to an increase in rental prices in specific cities, such as Sydney and Perth.

The effects of negative gearing on housing affordability, investing habits, and the Australian economy as a whole have been the subject of heated political controversy in the country since 1987.

To offer additional context and examples, here are more instances when negative gearing became a focal point in Australian political and economic discourse, especially concerning its abolishment and later restoration:

  • Abolishment in 1985: When the Labor government under Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating abolished negative gearing in 1985, the intention was to close a perceived loophole that allowed wealthy property investors to gain tax benefits. The move aimed to address concerns over income inequality and potentially reduce speculative behaviour in the property market. The government’s perspective was that the tax advantage encouraged over-investment in property, driving up housing prices and distorting the market.
  • Return in 1987: Following negative gearing’s abolishment, rental markets in Sydney and Perth experienced significant pressure, leading to rental price increases. These effects, along with concerns from the real estate industry and other stakeholders, prompted the government to reintroduce negative gearing in 1987. The restoration aimed to stabilize the rental markets and encourage property investment, with the hope of expanding the housing supply.
  • Ongoing Debates: Despite its reintroduction in 1987, negative gearing has remained a contentious issue. For example, during the 2016 federal election, the Australian Labor Party proposed limiting negative gearing to new properties and reducing capital gains tax discounts. This proposal aimed to address housing affordability concerns, arguing that negative gearing favoured wealthier investors and contributed to rising property prices.
  • Policy Reviews and Recommendations: Various government reports and think tanks have examined the impact of negative gearing. The Henry Tax Review in 2010 and the Productivity Commission’s reports on housing affordability are examples where negative gearing was analyzed. These studies often highlight the trade-offs between stimulating property investment and addressing housing affordability and equity.

Each of these examples demonstrates how negative gearing has been a recurring topic in Australia’s political and economic landscape, with discussions focusing on the balance between stimulating investment and ensuring a fair and accessible housing market.

What Are The Negative Gearing Tax Benefits?

Negative gearing provides tax benefits to property investors when their investment property’s expenses exceed the income it generates, creating a financial loss. This loss can then be used to reduce the investor’s taxable income, providing tax advantages. Here’s an overview of the primary negative gearing tax benefits:

  • Tax Deductions for Losses: Negative gearing allows property investors to claim a tax deduction for expenses that exceed the income generated by the investment property. This can include mortgage interest, property management fees, maintenance costs, council rates, insurance, and depreciation.
  • Reduction of Taxable Income: The loss incurred from the negatively geared property can be used to offset other sources of income, such as salary or wages. This reduction in taxable income leads to lower overall tax liability, potentially resulting in a tax refund or smaller tax bill.
  • Leveraging Tax Deductions to Increase Cash Flow: By reducing taxable income through negative gearing, investors can improve cash flow, making it easier to manage property-related expenses. This cash flow benefit can be attractive to investors seeking to build a portfolio of properties or who anticipate future capital gains.
  • Potential Long-term Capital Gains: Although negative gearing can lead to short-term losses, investors often rely on capital appreciation of the property over time to generate profit. The ability to offset losses in the short term while expecting long-term gains through property value increases is a key strategy for many investors.
  • Flexibility and Diversification: Negative gearing allows investors to diversify their income sources and potentially invest in multiple properties. The tax benefits can make it more financially feasible to hold multiple investments, which could yield significant returns as property values increase.

However, it’s worth noting that these tax benefits have attracted criticism. Opponents argue that negative gearing primarily benefits wealthier individuals and may contribute to housing market distortions, like driving up property prices and reducing affordability.

This has led to ongoing debate and discussion about the policy’s impact on the broader economy and society, with some advocating for reforms or limitations on negative gearing to address these concerns.


When property investors use negative gearing, they can reduce their taxable income and perhaps improve their cash flow. This is because negative gearing allows them to balance losses connected to their property against other revenue.

This technique has the potential to offer additional flexibility and encourage long-term investments in real estate, with the hope of generating capital gains as the value of the property increases.

On the other hand, the practice has been subjected to significant criticism and continues to be a divisive issue in the overall policy and political landscape of Australia.

Those who are opposed to negative gearing believe that it gives a disproportionate advantage to persons who are already wealthy, that it makes housing affordability problems worse, and that it adds to distortions in the property market.

The controversy surrounding negative gearing is a reflection of broader issues over income inequality, the availability of homes, and the place of the government in the process of regulating the real estate market.

In light of these difficulties, questions concerning the reform or elimination of negative gearing continue to be pertinent.

On the one hand, policymakers have the challenge of striking a balance between the incentives for property investment and the requirement to guarantee that the housing market is equitable and accessible to all Australians.

This continuous discussion highlights the significance of giving careful consideration to tax laws and investigating the possibility of reevaluating them to accommodate the changing dynamics in the real estate industry and the economy as a whole.

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