Pat Baker owns 53 houses worth $10 million and makes about $700,000 in rent a year. Property investors like her have been accused of using their investments to benefit from tax laws at the expense of other taxpayers. She disagrees, and tells property editor Anne Gibson she is being unfairly singled out by proposed tax changes.
Pat Baker, a $10 million landlady and grandmother, is bristling about being blamed for wrecking the economy.
The Whangaparaoa retiree owns 53 Hamilton houses, bringing in about $700,000 a year in rent.
Yet she feels persecuted for providing so richly for her retirement after Government moves this month to axe housing's tax shelter status.
She wonders what will happen when PM John Key's May Budget changes the rules which could raise GST to 15 per cent, reduce the top tax rate and deny landlords rental building depreciation which could bring in an extra $1.3 billion tax annually.
"It's said we don't contribute to the economy but I pay rates, insurance, bank interest, numerous tradespeople, merchants and a property manager."
She is affluent, "but the 53 places could have easily been 250".
She had 65 properties in Hamilton, but sold 11 that were costing too much to maintain.
"My first property cost $31,500. I borrowed $21,500 at 19.5 per cent and that was not the top rate," she said. The place was now worth about $300,000.
She is one of about 180,000 landlords with 451,965 houses and flats facing huge changes.
Property investors have been accused of using depreciation rules to claim tax losses, resulting in $213 billion of property generating more than $500 million in tax losses two years ago.
The Tax Working Group, which reported to the Government, said they were not paying their fair share.
PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and working group member Geoff Nightingale said the property sector was getting big tax subsidies resulting in middle and high-earning PAYE taxpayers contributing more than they should be expected.
He described the system as unbalanced.
Revenue Minister Peter Dunne has also accused landlords of abusing the system and claiming Working For Families allowances.
The working group's recommendations, and the Government's appetite to implement some of them, has upset Mrs Baker.
"My husband and I worked hard," she says
"We never had highly-paid jobs but we did have good opportunities to improve our situation. We saved and invested in something tangible which everyone needs.
"Now I am a 73-year-old widow. I manage very well. I am not a poor old-age pensioner because I took steps when I was younger to invest and accumulate wealth.
"But now property investors are maligned in the media. That's not fair.
"How many of our detractors would be willing to save for a deposit, borrow money, pay interest rates and insurance regardless of whether the property is rented or not?"