The ins and outs of negative gearing in Australia

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Have you ever wondered how negative gearing in Australia works and its impact on your financial goals? Despite being a common practice, it is reported that about 1.3 million out of over 1.9 million people who earned rental income experience net rental loss.

This article will provide insight into the ins and outs of negative gearing and guide you through strategies to make it work for your investment plan. Ready to delve deeper into this uniquely Aussie financial concept? Then let’s get started!

What is negative gearing?

Negative gearing is a financial strategy where the expenses linked with maintaining an investment property, including mortgage interest and other related costs, surpass the income it generates.

Definition and concept

Negative gearing happens when the cost to hold your investment exceeds the income it generates. Australia recognises this concept, mostly used in property investment strategies. For instance, your rental property is negatively geared if the rental income fails to cover interest payments and other expenses related to maintaining the property.

Here’s where it gets interesting – any losses incurred can be offset against other sources of taxable income which indeed reduces overall tax liability. This financial leverage has made negative gearing a favoured approach among Aussie investors seeking wealth creation through capital gains over time.

Comparison with positive gearing

Negative gearing and positive gearing are two sides of the same investment coin, each offering different strategies and outcomes for investors. Here, we compare the two in the context of Australian property investment.

Negative gearingPositive gearing
DefinitionNegative gearing occurs when the costs of owning a rental property, such as the interest on a loan, exceed the rent returns earned.Positive gearing is when the income from an asset, such as a rental property, is more than the costs, resulting in passive income for investors.
Income vs. ExpensesWith negative gearing, an investment asset incurs greater expenses than the income it generates. This situation often arises when rental income is less than the interest payments and outgoings.With positive gearing, the investments generate more income than expenses. This means the rental income is higher than the costs associated with the property, including the loan interest.
Tax StrategyNegative gearing has been a widely used tax strategy in Australia for many years, making owning investment properties more feasible for many investors.Positive gearing, while an alternative approach, is less common as a tax strategy. However, it provides investors with additional income which is subject to income tax.

Each strategy has its place in a diverse investment portfolio. Making the right choice depends on an investor’s financial goals, risk tolerance, and income needs.

Pros and cons of negative gearing

Negative gearing’s allure lies within the potential for increased market value, steady income and lessened tax liability. However, it also presents challenges such as elevated purchase costs, tenant turnover and added responsibilities of being a landlord.

Benefits of negative gearing (market value increase, regular income, reduced tax liability)

Negative gearing offers many financial perks for Australian investors.

  • One major advantage is the potential increase in market value. Buying a negative-geared property provides opportunities for substantial capital growth in the long run.
  • Negative gearing also guarantees regular cash flow from rental yield, despite the income being less than the expenses incurred. This creates a reliable income stream whilst waiting for the property to appreciate in value.
  • Furthermore, it reduces tax liability significantly. The losses made on a negatively geared investment property can be deducted from other sources of income, leading to valuable tax benefits.
  • In fact, one important aspect of negative gearing is its impact on your taxable income. The tax deduction not only covers mortgage interest but extends to maintenance costs as well.
  • Including negatively geared properties in your real estate portfolio allows for enhanced diversification and risk management.

Disadvantages of negative gearing (high purchase costs, tenant turnover, becoming a landlord)

Let’s turn our attention to some of the pitfalls you may encounter with negative gearing in Australia.

  1. High purchase costs: Investing in real estate usually requires a hefty upfront payment. This initial investment might be challenging for many Australians who do not possess enough savings.
  2. Tenant turnover: Negative gearing often involves rental properties. Finding renters can be tough, and dealing with rental vacancies between tenants can reduce your cash flow.
  3. Becoming a landlord: Alongside your regular job, managing an investment property demands time and energy. Be ready for responsibilities like tenant screenings, property maintenance, and addressing any emergencies that arise.

Tax implications of negative gearing in Australia

When navigating the use of negative gearing in Australia, it’s essential to understand its tax implications – being aware that investment losses can be deductible and having comprehensive insights on capital gains tax and how such methodology impacts your taxable income will help steer your financial journey.

Deductibility of losses

Investors in Australia benefit from negative gearing tax rules where they can deduct losses on rental properties. Losses occur when your expenses, such as mortgage interest and property upkeep costs, exceed the income you earn from your investments.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) permits these rental property owners to offset this loss against their other taxable income. However, it’s essential to note that there is no specific law giving direct permission for this deduction – yet it’s widely allowed.

This unique aspect of Australian tax policy sparks numerous discussions and debates among experts while being a topic proposed for future reform efforts. It’s crucial for investors to understand how these deductions work, particularly since proposals could lead either to limiting these deductions or even phasing them out completely.

Proper knowledge about the deductibility of losses helps build an effective investment approach and plan better for any possible changes in future legislation regarding negative gearing.

Capital gains tax implications

Investors in Australia who make use of negative gearing often encounter a significant implication relating to capital gains tax. Typically, selling an investment property generates capital gains, which are subject to a specific taxation form.

However, the Australian tax system offers certain advantages for negatively geared investments. For instance, investors can benefit from a 50% discount on capital gains tax if they hold onto their properties for more than twelve months before making a sale.

This advantageous rule makes negative gearing even more attractive as an investment strategy since it lowers potential tax liabilities and increases overall profit margins from sales of properties.

Impact on taxable income

Negative gearing in Australia can significantly influence your taxable earnings. Essentially, the lost income from the property investment reduces your total gross income, which is then reported to ATO.

Say you earn $100,000 a year and experience an investment loss of $10,000. Instead of paying tax on the full amount earned (that is, $100,000), you are taxed only on $90,000 due to this lowering effect caused by such investment losses via negative gearing.

Targeting these deductible expenses provides a smart strategy for investors looking to diminish their annual tax burden. It lessens income tax liability while growing the potential for asset appreciation over time.

Making negative gearing work for your financial goals

To make negative gearing work for your financial goals, you need to equip yourself with proper strategies such as seeking professional advice and picking the right property, but also considering long-term investment plans.

It’s important to manage risks effectively through sound financial planning, diversification of assets and contingency preparation to handle unexpected situations.

Strategies for success (seeking professional advice, property selection, long-term investment approach)

Crafting your road to financial success through negative gearing requires key strategies such as professional advice, suitable property selection and a long-term investment approach.

  • Seek professional advice: Consulting a financial planner or a mortgage broker provides numerous advantages in understanding the ins and outs of negative gearing. They can help tailor an ideal plan acknowledging your financial goals and capabilities.
  • Property selection: In the dynamic property market, choosing the right rental income property significantly impacts your returns. The location, possible capital growth and tenant demand play major roles in this choice.
  • Long-term investment approach: Negative gearing benefits immensely from long-term investment approaches. With time, not only does your investment property’s market value rise but also gives you an opportunity for refinancing and better loan repayments.

Minimising risks (proper financial planning, diversification, contingency planning)

Managing the risks associated with negative gearing, like with any other investment strategy, demands careful planning. Here are some effective ways to keep those investing dangers in check:

  1. Practise prudent financial planning: A well-thought-out financial plan keeps your monetary goals front and centre. It curtails hasty or emotional decisions that can otherwise skew your portfolio in adverse directions.
  2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Diversification is a smart move for risk minimisation. Spreading investments across various assets can soften potential blows if negative gearing on a property doesn’t go according to plan.
  3. Brace yourself for the unexpected: No investment ever comes with foolproof guarantees. Formulate contingency plans that account for sudden market shifts, an unexpected increase in interest rates or prolonged tenant vacancies to counter these possible hurdles.
  4. Set realistic financial targets: Aligning your investment plan with your financial capability and tolerance for risk ensures you don’t fall into severe debt.
  5. Leverage cautiously: While borrowing to invest can lead to sizeable profits in a soaring market, it also amplifies losses during downturns—a fact underlining the need for strategic risk management.


Venturing into the world of negative gearing in Australia can at first seem complex, but it’s a journey worth embarking on. With careful analysis and smart planning, negative gearing can be a powerful tool for your financial growth.

Always ensure you understand both advantages and disadvantages thoroughly before diving in. This intriguing process has the potential to catapult your wealth-building strategy if wielded correctly.


What is negative gearing?

Negative gearing is an investment strategy where the costs of maintaining a property, including interest on the loan, exceed the income it generates.

Can I use negative gearing in Australia?

Yes, you can indeed use negative gearing as an investment strategy in Australia if your rental income doesn’t cover your expenses.

How does negative gearing benefit me?

The loss incurred from negative gearing can be offset against other income earned, thereby reducing your overall taxable income in Australia.

Are there any risks associated with negative gearing?

Yes, some risks involve the potential for financial loss if property prices decrease or if interest rates on loans increase unexpectedly.

What happens when my negatively geared property starts making profits?

When your negatively geared property begins generating a profit rather than a loss, you will have to start paying tax on that profit.

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