Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TAXES & FINANCE: Mortgage Tax Deduction

For months now, experts have been debating the fate of the home mortgage interest deduction (MID). So why exactly are politicians targeting the MID? With a federal deficit of around $13 trillion, officials are hard-pressed to find ways to curb the growing the debt.

The deduction, a pillar of the housing industry since 1913, could be on the chopping block. The Obama administration's deficit committee is currently reviewing it, along with other items, in order to scope out new ways to help reduce our budget shortfall.

The co-chairmen of the White House's bipartisan deficit-reduction commission said Tuesday they would propose a significant paring of popular middle-class tax breaks, including the mortgage-interest deduction, and push for an increase in the Social Security retirement age.

Some say there are better options available than keeping the MID, following suit of many European nations who have in recent years nixed the deductions themselves, but the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) disagrees. They feel that this deduction is a strong incentive for homeownership. For nearly 100 years homeowners have been allowed to deduct the interest paid on mortgages for their primary residences, second homes and most home equity lines of credit.

"The tax deductibility of interest paid on mortgages is a powerful incentive for home ownership and has been one of the simplest provisions in the federal tax code for more than 80 years. In a new survey commissioned by NAR and conducted online in October 2010 by Harris Interactive of nearly 3,000 homeowners and renters, nearly three-fourths of homeowners and two-thirds of renters said the mortgage interest deduction was extremely or very important to them."

NAR President Ron Phipps, states, "Recent progress has been made in bringing stability to the housing market and any changes to the MID now or in the future could critically erode home prices and the value of homes by as much as 15 percent, according to our research. This would negatively impact home ownership for millions of Americans, including those who own their homes outright and have no mortgage."

He continued, saying, "Any further downward pressure on home prices will hamper the economic recovery, raise foreclosures and hurt banks' abilities to lend and likely tip the economy into another recession resulting in further job losses for the country. It will effectively close the door on the American dream."

Will Washington continue to allow taxpayers who own their homes to reduce their taxable income by the interest paid on the loan? Time will tell. It is dependent on finding alternative ways to curb growing anxiety over our growing debt.

Carla Hill Realty Times December 2, 2010

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