Transtasman on house price logic

November 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman report:

OK, so the Govt wants us to smoke more, which is why it has hiked the tax on tobacco, right? And the whole Kyoto, putting a price on emissions thing: it’s to encourage people to put out more greenhouse gases, isn’t it?

No?

Well consider the position of Labour and the Greens and – as of this week – whoever writes NZ Herald editorials. Apparently, according to this logic, the way to get more houses is to tax them more.

Thanks TT for pointing out the stupidity of their arguments. They want to tax houses more, so they cost less. Yeah, right.

At the moment the issue is supply of houses. There isn’t enough of them, in Auckland or – for obviously different reasons - Christchurch.

In Auckland the question is simply because it’s the only part of the country with net inward migration and a growing population. In short, both Auckland and Christchurch need more houses.

You don’t – unless your grasp of economic incentives is really skew-whiff – increase the tax on something you want more of.

Labour and Greens are against freeing up more land, and want to tax houses more – imagine then!

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45 Responses to “Transtasman on house price logic”

  1. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    UN agenda 21 will answer a lot of these questions

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  2. gump (1,487 comments) says:

    In Victoria the State Government charges stamp duties on sales of land and buildings.

    This creates an incentive for new construction as developers can sell house & land packages to customers who pay stamp duty on the land but don’t have to pay stamp duty on the (not yet built at the time of the sale agreement) houses.

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  3. smttc (692 comments) says:

    gump, which is argument for increasing the supply of land.

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  4. gump (1,487 comments) says:

    @smttc

    No argument there. You can’t develop bare sections without a good supply of undeveloped land.

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  5. Elaycee (4,301 comments) says:

    Labour and Greens are against freeing up more land, and want to tax houses more
    They want to tax houses more, so they cost less.

    And yet the Gweens / Labour would have us think they’re fit for office?

    Last one out, turn off the lights. :(

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  6. wreck1080 (3,731 comments) says:

    How much land should be freed up then?

    Who supports Auckland sprawling all the way to hamilton?

    I see this mainly as council incompetence for not planning for good high density living.

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  7. Bullion (74 comments) says:

    Generally speaking, how much of an issue is it of supply? I would be interested to know how many homeless people there are due to lack of supply or how many houses are over crowded due to lack of supply? Isn’t the argument here concentration of ownership – hence CGT only on investment properties?

    Do agree that housing stocks do need to match population growth but would prefer less urban sprawl, or at least planned along good transportation corridors.

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  8. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    So now Labour/Greens are proposing a sales tax on property? Because I thought they were proposing a capital gains tax.

    Or is the example the Transtasman use (and DPF breathlessly agrees with) just plain dumb?

    You would think the Transtasman would know the difference because Australia has had a capital gains tax since the mid 1980′s.

    [DPF: Umm a capital gains tax is a tax on selling property for a gain, and other capital gains]

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  9. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Labour’s proposal to tax capital gains was actually announced before the last election, so it’s unclear why you would bring up the issue now. Clearly, you’re happy with market failure.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10843728

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  10. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > You would think the Transtasman would know the difference because Australia has had a capital gains tax since the mid 1980′s.

    Indeed, many OECD countries have a capital gains tax.

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  11. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    In Auckland the question is simply because it’s the only part of the country with net inward migration and a growing population. In short, both Auckland and Christchurch need more houses.

    We need to encourage immigration into areas outside of Auckland, thereby relieving the pressure on housing and infrstructure in Auckland.

    We need to lighten up our immigration laws for those that undertake to live outside of Auckland. They could get a few more “points” on their applications or something. This would help create industry and employment in the regions. It is win win. We need immigrants to replace the Kiwis moving out of the regions. Don’t panic folks, we are not going to see bunches of Indians and Chinese on the dole out in the regions. We will see them work hard and prosper.

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  12. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    Who supports Auckland sprawling all the way to hamilton?

    Who says that will happen? Why is the response to “loosen up land restrictions” always met with “well have sprawl over the whole country”. New Zealand is huge for its population.

    We need to lighten up our immigration laws for those that undertake to live outside of Auckland. They could get a few more “points” on their applications or something. This would help create industry and employment in the regions.

    I’ve often wondered why this hasn’t been done before. Especially when we seem to have skill shortages in certain areas of the country. If you want to move here, you can, if you live in this region for 3 years, in return, we’ll lower your entry criteria.

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  13. Elaycee (4,301 comments) says:

    Wreck:

    I see this mainly as council incompetence for not planning for good high density living.

    Not really… in recent years we saw the construction of many, many apartment blocks and studios to cater for the so called influx of (mainly) Asian students. And what happened? Today there are hundreds of apartments for sale in Auckland – many at bargain prices. But, unless you are a couple / single, no-one wants them because the demand is not for apartments in high rise buildings, but rather a home with a section (for the kids to play).

    The Auckland Council continues to wet itself thinking of high rise, because it wants to concentrate the population around transport hubs (Len’s Train Set). But Auckland buyers (and ratepayers) clearly don’t want to live in high rise – otherwise the apartments currently for sale would be snapped up.

    Besides, there’s no real shortage of land in Auckland. In any direction. And all within a short distance to a motorway.

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  14. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    And what happened? Today there are hundreds of apartments for sale in Auckland– many at bargain prices

    Elaycee, so there are “hundreds” of “bargain” apartments available in Auckland, due to Asian immigration.

    Housing problem solved. :)

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  15. RRM (9,459 comments) says:

    Urban Sprawl is a GOOD thing. it encourages the growth of satellite centres, which take on lives of their own, and that mitigates the ever-increasing queue of people trying to get into the old CBD each day.

    While I think residential property investors SHOULD pay capital gains tax, I would suggest that reforming the whole business of state houses would be a much better way of getting more poor people into their own cheap basic houses. Get rid of the current “state as landlord” model and start up a “state as developer and mortgage lender” model.

    Recent experience has shown that private enterprise is just not interested in building small cheap houses, only $600k spec houses and upwards. This is why small, cheap first homes are getting smaller and smaller, older and older, more and more rotten, further and further away from town, and more and more expensive.

    So if more of those sorts of houses are needed, then probably the government is going to have to build them.

    And as a positive spin-off, converting state house tenants into state house owners is going to do more to improve the condition of the state houses (and state house streets) than anything else they could do.

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  16. Rightandleft (636 comments) says:

    Actually I recall that when I applied for residency there were extra points available for those with a job offer outside the Auckland region.

    We should be freeing up land much more easily than is currently done. The left favours high-density living because it promotes public transport and requires fewer cars. Also to that end it seems, Russel Norman wrote his Herald article today promising a lower standard of living for all under a Green government. Higher petrol prices would definitely cut down on the cars on the road. I hope they keep making that argument so the polls will swing back to the Nats.

    My only worry in the CGT is that it could drive rent prices up because it would specifically tax investment properties.

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  17. Mike Wilkinson (65 comments) says:

    Is anyone else disappointed with the general quality of NZ Herald editorials? I recall they recently came up with this one at the time of the Olympics (admittedly, in the Herald on Sunday): http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10818050

    In it, they argued that that disabled South African sprinter shouldn’t be allowed to run in the Olympics. In the event, many were happy he did get to run and few gave two hoots about it. Hardly a progressive or supportive position for the paper to take.

    Anyone else got an opinion on the quality of editorials?

    Cheers,
    Mike

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  18. pq (728 comments) says:

    I suppose many people have read the Gareth Morgan ‘Capital tax’ idea.
    He proposes to tax every asset owner a percentage on the value of that asset.
    There would be an adjustment if the asset produces taxable income.
    He does not say how he could tax assets that have flown overseas, foreign investments, Trusts, Companies.

    The main thrust of his argument was a tax on the middle class home owner, with name on title deed, and at over 1% per year.

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  19. Bob R (1,336 comments) says:

    Immigration from would also be a significant factor driving house prices, as it is in Australia?

    “Auckland’s population has reached a landmark 1.5 million.

    The face of New Zealand is changing and the most drastic changes will take place in Auckland, where projections show that within 10 years, non-Europeans will make up nearly half of the population.

    By 2021, for every 100 residents in Auckland, 27 will be Asian, 17 Pacific Islanders, 12 Maori and just 53 will be European – down from 59 today. (Some people identify with two or more ethnicities).

    Immigration policies favour the young, affluent and qualified – and starting a family or raising a family is why many of them initially choose to come to New Zealand,” said Dr Ho.

    She said many Asians chose to move to New Zealand for the sake of their children. Chinese, who felt restricted by China’s one-child policy, could have more children.

    “For new migrants, many would initially like to stay in a place where they have got friends or relatives, and Auckland is also more likely to be able to offer them this compared to other New Zealand cities.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10782565

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  20. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    The answer is very simple, don’t live in Auckland, it’s full.

    Seriously, is that the only place in NZ that people consider living? obviously don’t get out much.

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  21. Rightandleft (636 comments) says:

    Auckland isn’t full, it has plenty of room to expand. The govt just needs to open up more of the land north and south of the urban limit. By world standards Auckland is still quite small. I wouldn’t want to live too many other places in NZ because I like being in a city and I like the weather. All the other sizable cities are too cold for me.

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  22. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    Recent experience has shown that private enterprise is just not interested in building small cheap houses, only $600k spec houses and upwards.

    Interested in your recent experiences. Mine have been that doing minor work on a house is debilitatingly expensive as soon as the council is involved. You can no longer do small chunks of gradual improvements as the council’s take for approving any changes is often more than the cost of the work if you’re remotely handy yourself. As such, I can see how this would push developers towards bigger ‘all encompassing houses’ as the percentage of council take is smaller. If we could lessen the cost of land, and reduce the spend on council approvals, then we might get developers building lower end houses. Oh and I’m sure the recent demands on “building practitioners” hasn’t increased the likelihood of builders building cheap houses. They’ve got to make up their yearly registration fees somewhere.

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  23. thedavincimode (6,532 comments) says:

    ross69

    Maintain your ignorance about the drivers of house inflation and you can keep feeling better about yourself and maintain your happy state of being bitter and twisted.

    Market failure?? Ppffft. It’s market interference that is root cause here. Interference through planning and high density restrictions, the tax system and gummint rorts (like WFF). Policy sets around those factors combined with positive inbound migration mean that all that is required is to stand well clear while you ignite the touchpaper.

    Your sorry lot would will only make the problem worse with their policy and the fact that you don’t understand that and the reasons for it, but instead see the present situation as “market failure” is a good indicator of how ignorant you actually are of the underlying issues.

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  24. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    This is all about wealth transfer, transferring the value of NZ land to the parasitic (and hungry) NZ property investor.

    This is utterly friggin ridiculous.

    We are repeating exactly the same mistakes of the USA.

    Invest in existing neighborhoods, problem solved.

    But no, not enough margin in it for “property speculatus maximus”.

    For goodness sake just let the correction occur and return to a more sustainable market, ie, making improvements to a property that actually increases value in real terms instead of constantly trying to get something for nothing.

    Nice new houses on the fringes aren’t going to work too well when the middle is rotten as.

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  25. hj (6,358 comments) says:

    National is the Property Councils bitch.

    80% of our population growth in the last couple of decades has been the net inflow of non NZ citizens .
    “Among policy and analytical circles in New Zealand there is a pretty high degree of enthusiasm for high levels of immigration. Some of that stems from the insights of literature on increasing returns to scale. Whatever the general global story, the actual productivity track record here in the wake of very strong inward migration is poor. In an Australian context, the Productivity Commission – hardly a hot-bed of xenophobia or populism – concluded that any benefits from migration to Australia were captured by migrants and there were few or no discernible economic benefits to Australians. And that was in a country already rich and successful and with materially higher national saving and domestic investment rates than those in NZ.”
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/mi-jarrett-comm.pdf
    Government policies blamed for house prices
    “Immigration and tax breaks for investment in residential property are being cited as the underlying causes of steep increases in the cost of housing over the past decade.
    New Zealand now boasts one of the highest rates of home unaffordability in the world as a result of prices rising far faster than incomes, and the government’s Savings Working Group blames that squarely on the policies of successive governments.
    Although “the favourable tax treatment of property investment” accounted for about 50% of house price increases between 2001 and 2007, the working group said, there was also strong evidence that rapid swings in immigration brought about price-rise “shocks”.
    There was a sharp spike in immigration in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and, said working group committee member Dr Andrew Coleman, it appeared that property prices did not fall anywhere near as greatly when immigration fell again.
    The report added that there was little evidence that immigration boosted local incomes. In fact, the need to build roads and schools meant that net migration contributed to the national deficit. ”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

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  26. Key is our man (787 comments) says:

    Elaycee (2,884) Says:
    November 2nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Labour and Greens are against freeing up more land, and want to tax houses more
    They want to tax houses more, so they cost less.

    And yet the Gweens / Labour would have us think they’re fit for office?

    Don’t you worry about this. This scenario is very much a possibility in 2014.

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  27. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    There is no upward pressure on house values from a CGT. Just a diminished incentive to invest in residential property for a CG.

    Given the rise in number of investment properties to home owner ones, and the lack of a CGT is one explanation, one assumes those opposed to a CGT are simply in favour of a continued decline in home ownership levels.

    Clearly the party of greed is selling out home ownership as an aspiration we are all supposed to realise.

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  28. Elaycee (4,301 comments) says:

    Kea (3.00pm):

    Elaycee, so there are “hundreds” of “bargain” apartments available in Auckland, due to Asian immigration. Housing problem solved.

    Comprehension not your strong point? Yes, there are hundreds of apartments for sale in Auckland – originally built to cater for an influx of overseas students. But it turns out no-one wants to live in a shoe box. Not even students. And it appears that no-one wants to live in a high rise at the Viaduct / Quay Street / Railway Station / Nelson Street etc either because they want a place where the kids can run about…

    Key is our man:

    Don’t you worry about this. This scenario [Gweens and Labour] is very much a possibility in 2014.

    Its the stuff of which nightmares are made… a flashback to McGillicuddy politics – complete with a few of their ‘star turns’ on the main stage. Add the venal Peters to the mix and the recipe is there for a disaster that will take generations to fix.

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  29. OneTrack (2,604 comments) says:

    SPC – “There is no upward pressure on house values from a CGT. Just a diminished incentive to invest in residential property for a CG.”

    if a property investor is going to lose money on their investment because they will get less of a capital gain, what do you think the logical outcome will be – sell and take the capital gain hit, or put the rents up and make your money that way?

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  30. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @Mike Wilkinson, I’m not disappointed at the quality of Herald editorials because I expect most to be unresearched rubbish.

    As for house prices, the first requirement is to stop Government usurpation of property rights which has strangled both land and building markets. We have thousands of bureaucrats devoted to stopping people doing things. Get rid of them.

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  31. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    @SPC, so increasing tax on oil exploration will result in more oil wells? Better reexamine your assumptions.

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  32. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    AW, a CGT is not a cost of production, what about that do you fail to understand?

    A better comparison would be royalty on oil.

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  33. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    It’s a disincentive to investment which will reduce supply until prices rise to compensate for it. It is also not the real problem as I have stated.

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  34. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    OT, a property investor does not lose money on an investment, if some of the CG is taxed. They simply make less money after the income tax, just like everyone else.

    Investors do not determine how much money they make from an investment. Not in how much CG they make nor in what rents they can charge. It’s market driven.

    There is no difference in rent in markets where there is a CGT and one where there is not, rent is a function of supply and demand – and the capacity of tenants to pay higher rents in a tight supply market.

    Someone charging a lower rent than they could make, because they are sitting on a property rising in value (whether there is a tax on some of the CG or not), is giving away some of the investment return to the tenant in cheap rent. Behaving more like a charity than an investor. I suspect landlords who claim they would raise rents if there was a CGT are simply lying to deter do gooders from taxing their CG income from any sale.

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  35. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    AW, it’s no more a disincentive than for any business to invest where there is a tax on profit made – and businesses already pay full company tax on their CG.

    And most speculators looking for CG go for existing property not development (at best they buy a place and sub-divide it and sell part as land for a new house) – most of those that develop property are regarded as in the business and they already pay CG.

    The real problem is that speculators can avoid the company tax rate CGT by buying existing property or land and on-selling to home owners or developers.

    In general a CGT is about taxing all income not just about housing policy.

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  36. Alan Wilkinson (1,816 comments) says:

    Depending how it is implemented a CGT will raise rents, divert investments from rental properties and shares to the family home, reduce the supply of land and houses and encourage Governments to spend even more money. It will tend to raise house prices even more and do absolutely nothing to address the real problems of the market – destroyed and insufficient property rights usurped by a massive and stifling bureaucracy.

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  37. Nick K (1,068 comments) says:

    Labour has given up on the CGT having any impact on house prices. They know it can’t, and it won’t. It’s just revenue gathering. They want to spend a further $700 million on welfare and the CGT raises that (according to them) over about 7-10 years. That’s all it’s about. It’s just Labour taxing and spending. Again.

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  38. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    AW, I would instead forecast that a loss of investment in existing rental property for profit would result in less money for purchase of existing lower end housing thus falling price and more home ownership. But little change in investment in new development (but lower land values cost) as the people involved here are already taxed on their business income.

    Sure some money would go into either higher end existing property (trading up) or into buying the new homes provided by developers – leaving existing lower end property on the market – lower prices for first home buyers.

    The government could either use CGT revenue to boost investment in lower end housing or simply reduce the deficit – and Labour did tax and spend within their budget for 9 years, unlike National since.

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  39. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    I’m disappointed in such simplistic reasoning by DPF. FFS, landlords don’t create extra housing!! The Kiwi landlord that has been creating the problem buys old dumps and rents them rather than leaving them to first home buyers to buy. New houses are typically larger and built by owner occupiers, and these have been getting increasingly expensive and driving that end of the market up!

    With the abolition of the depreciation deduction landlords have been exiting and we have seen first home buyers finally coming back into the market.

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  40. hj (6,358 comments) says:

    So I want to focus today on some of their research and how it helps shape Government policy and thinking. This research is very important to us as we work to increase the contribution that immigration makes to New Zealand’s economy and society.

    Immigration creates jobs by encouraging innovation, deepening our links with international markets and providing the capital and skills we need for growth.

    In this increasingly competitive world we need to redouble our efforts to attract the skills and investment New Zealand needs by targeting the right people, and by working with employers to identify, attract and retain migrants with the skills we need.

    Before I go on it’s worth pausing a moment to look at some facts and figures around immigration:

    New migrants contribute an estimated $1.9 billion a year to New Zealand’s economy
    one in four New Zealand workers is a migrant
    one in three Auckland workers are migrants.
    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/speech/speech-massey-university-conference-quotpathways-metropolis-21st-century-immigration-issues-a

    I would suggest that the $1.9 billion is why “we” like migrants and I would suggest it is because they supply industry with buyers where the common Kiwi can no longer afford? Traitors

    As for all the needed skills… that must be for the hovercar factories and assorted spaceships.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

    Shame poo-bah and Chardonnay socialist journalists and shame on Labour and the Greens (not that the news media will tell).

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  41. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    We tax the profits of those who build new houses and they also have to pay GST – so DPF’s logic on this is about as sound as Mugabe’s financial management! David, when are you going to call for no GST on new housing and no tax on the builders who construct new houses???

    [DPF: I actually support a capital gains tax with no exemptions, but I appreciate it will increase the cost of housing. One should make up for this with income tax cuts. What I am attacking is the notion that a capital gains tax will lower house prices]

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  42. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    A CGT on the family home is nuts, it is a barrier to the free movement of labour because of the tax liability on the sale of the home. It means a loss of home equity every time someone moves residence.

    Maybe those who say they are for a CGT if it includes this are really counting on popular opposition to CGT on the family home to prevent any CGT.

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  43. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    What exactly is the attack on the idea that a CGT on rental property and land would increase the cost of housing. Is there an actual argument to this effect and from whom and where?

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  44. Ed Snack (1,737 comments) says:

    What’s the general “moral” case for a CGT ? It looks to me like most people think it’s because some people have more money than they do and so it should be taken off them, by force if necessary. Very dubiously justifiable.

    Governments are frequently the cause of capital gains, by artificially restricting the supply of, in the case being discussed, land and building.

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  45. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    There is no morality case for taxation, apart from that if public services are afforded by tax on income – all forms of income should be taxed.

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