Real estate moves into leading economic role

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Australia’s real estate industry continues it surge to be the nation’s leading economic force, with recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics illustrating its rise.

The figures, released early this week, have revealed that over the December 2015 quarter, the real estate industry generated more than double the amount of taxable profit compared to the mining industry.

According to the ABS figures, the real estate industry generated $8.59 billion worth of taxable profit over the December 2015 quarter compared to the $3.66 billion generated by the mining industry.

Over the September 2015 quarter the real estate industry generated $5.4 billion worth of taxable profit, while the mining industry generated $6.1 billion.  

Over the December 2014 quarter the mining industry generated $5.1 billion of taxable profit compared to the real estate industry’s $4.4 billion.

The December 2015 quarterly figures are the first time in records dating back to the September 1985 quarter that the real estate industry’s taxable profit has outstripped that of the mining industry.  

The release of the figures comes at an interesting time, as the future of negative gearing on housing dominates discussion about tax reform in Australia.

The Federal Opposition has already announced the platform on the tax break it will take to the next election, while two weeks later investors are still waiting to hear what the Government’s position will be as party tensions over possible changes reportedly escalate.

There has been heavy speculation the Coalition is considering a cap on the dollar amount that can be claimed each year via negative gearing and media outlets reported over the weekend that Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull refused to rule out his government making the changes retrospective.

That possibility has been heavily criticised by on tax professional, with Eddie Chung, partner at accounting firm BDO describing it as “concerning.”

When considering changes to negative gearing, commentary about the potential to wind back negative gearing benefits on a retrospective basis is concerning,” Chung said.

“Some may argue the environment has changed to warrant the wind back of negative gearing benefits, doing so retrospectively and applying it to people who have already bought properties on which negative gearing benefits are claimed would be tantamount to penalising them for planning ahead,” he said.

While Chung would not be drawn into too much detail on the possible affects possible changes to negative gearing would have on investor activity and the housing market, he firmly believes applying any changes retrospectively would be unwise.

“The problem is if you go and make these changes retrospective, then people are going to look at their situation and decide which properties they can afford to keep and which ones they can’t,” Chung told Your Investment Property Magazine.

“When that happens you run the risk of a huge glut of supply coming onto the market at once and when that happens, then you’re really going to see the market be affected.”

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