Let’s talk about tax (concessions), baby!

Everybody’s Home Written Off report & the National Housing & Homelessness Plan

Our supporters may recall in the second-half of last year that the Federal Department of Social Services released its Developing the National Housing and Homelessness Plan Issues Paper. We, and our other State Shelter counterparts led by National Shelter, participated in feedback on this Issues Paper through roundtables with the Department as well as our formal submission:

Just yesterday, the Department released its consultation summary report of the various themes, opinions, and recommendations canvassed during the public exhibition period.

Key principles recommended to guide the National Housing and Homelessness Plan (DSS consultation summary report):

1. Affordability
2. Equity and equality
3. Housing as a human right
4. Accessibility
5. Sustainability
6. Housing First approach
7. Safety and security
8. Involving people with lived experience
9. Inclusive and culturally safe
10. A united approach
11. Focusing on the individual and understanding their experiences
12. Secure funding and support

We have skimmed this consultation report and whilst we think the Department has done reasonably well to represent the scope of issues and suggestions, it is eerily silent on the issue of investor tax concessions that drive unsustainable speculation in the housing market. This was a key criticism in our submission as well as National Shelter’s submission on the lack of vision and portfolio-integration in truly getting to the root cause of housing injustice in Australia.

The silence on this topic in the consultation summary report by the Department is all the more disappointing when observed alongside the recent research launched by Everybody’s Home Written Off: The high cost of Australia’s unfair tax system report.

The Written Off report analyses in dollar-terms the revenue foregone in our tax system over the past decade by handing out generous tax concessions (negative gearing, capital gains tax discounts) to private investors in the housing market. Not only this, the report draws a neat connection between how much projected foregone tax revenue in the coming decade could be invested in building new social housing.

Making this link between an unfair taxation system which skews towards ever-higher speculative housing investment AND the dwindling investment in social housing is vital for the Federal Government to grasp, acknowledge, and remedy. We will work with our network of Shelters to continue pressing this issue with the Department of Social Services as it develops its National Housing and Homelessness Plan.