Aussie politicians who “live off” rental income without owning property

Australia’s federal politicians charged with tackling the thorny issue of soaring house prices have been outed as keen property investors themselves, raising the question just how willing  they are to address the current housing affordability crisis and rein in generous tax deductions and advantages for property investment.

Investment property has some major tax advantages which makes it pretty exciting for the top earners such as politicians to buy up a large number of properties to minimize the actual tax they pay. This is called “negative gearing” – that has been blamed for frenetic property speculation over the past decade.

When compiling the ranking how many properties Australian parliamentarians own based on the Parliament’s registers of interests, we noticed parliamentarians use different techniques to conceal their real estate holdings.

While many of our elected politicians appear to leverage more formal strategies such as companies, trusts, self-managed super funds, spouses and other complex investment vehicles to hold properties, there are others who resort to a much simpler technique.

Here are a couple of examples of such cases below:

Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan shows “rental income from investment property” under the “any other substantial sources of income” and has “mortgage on investment property” although, according to the register, he does not own any property.

Mr Canavan’s responses in bold. You can view the original declaration here.

3. Real estate, including the location (suburb or area only) and the purpose for which it is owned
NIL

6. Liabilities, indicating the nature of the liability and the creditor concerned
Mortgage on investment property. Commonwealth Bank

10. The nature of any other substantial sources of income
Rental income from investment property

Meanwhile, Federal MP for Kennedy and Katter’s Australian Party head Bob Katter who does not declare any property ownership but has “part ownership of a rental property” from which he earns rental income:

Mr Katter’s responses in bold. You can view the original declaration here.

1. List shareholdings in public and private companies (including holding companies) and indicate the name of the company or companies
Self: A number of AMP shares
Spouse: She does not provide me with this information – regards this as personal business and I respect her wishes in these matters. 

3. Real estate, including the location (suburb or area only) and the purpose for which it is owned
Self: N/A
Spouse: My wife has at times bought and sold some investment properties. She regards this as her private business. 

9. The nature of any other assets (excluding household and personal effects) each valued at over $7,500
Self: Part ownership of a rental property in Charters Towers
Spouse: None of the present that I can think of (sic)

You can view your local member’s property interests here.