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Keywords:

  • Taxation;
  • Housing

This paper quantifies the major subsidies and taxes that affect housing, the impacts on house prices and housing consumption, and the efficiency effects. Private housing receives an estimated net subsidy of $6.3 billion per annum. Most of this subsidy accrues to homeowners, who as a group receive about an 8% subsidy on imputed gross rentals. The rental sector receives a subsidy of approximately 0.4% of rents. On plausible (unitary elasticity) demand and supply assumptions, the homeowner subsidy increases all housing prices by about 2% and total housing consumption by about 2%, with the rise in consumption by home owners more than offsetting the fall in consumption by renters. The housing subsidy produces an estimated deadweight loss from expenditure on renovations of about $100 million per annum. However, contrary to previous work, the paper finds that the housing subsidy produces welfare gains from expenditure on new housing in the order of $187 million a year. This arises because the subsidy offsets the over-regulated supply of new housing. Transaction taxes on housing have a separate deadweight loss of $375 million per annum. Also, the unequal treatment of homeowners and renters creates a small annual deadweight loss.