Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Really Benefits From The Mortgage Tax Break?

See Mortgage Tax Break Said to Trickle Up by Nick Timiraos of the WSJ.Excerpts:
"Federal tax benefits for homeowners primarily help wealthier people borrow more money to buy larger houses rather than boost homeownership, according to a new study."

" preferences, particularly the mortgage-interest deduction, have helped drive up the size of houses by as much as 18% in the nation's most affluent areas while not broadly encouraging people to buy homes."

"...a growing body of economic research that suggests Americans don't benefit broadly from the tax preferences, which the study estimates cost the government $175 billion annually in forgone revenue."

"... tax subsidies for housing "don't encourage homeownership in any meaningful way. People just end up buying larger homes," said Andrew Hanson, an associate professor of economics at Marquette University who conducted the study along with two other economists."

" benefits have contributed to the average home size being about 1,400 square feet larger than if the benefits didn't exist."

"... owners benefit from capital-gains avoidance when realizing a $250,000 gain from a home sale, a provision that benefits households in coastal markets with greater home-price appreciation."

" Robert Dietz, an economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said tax filings also show larger families tend to take larger deductions, and larger families need more space."

"... tax benefits for owner-occupied homes generally accrue to a minority of households. Homeowners with incomes above $100,000 were between three and four times as likely to claim the tax benefit as those earning less than $100,000."

"The average annual savings for households claiming housing tax benefits are $12,300 in San Francisco and $10,700 in Los Angeles, compared with $1,600 in Detroit and $2,900 in Dallas, the study found.

Meantime, residents in San Francisco who earn more than $100,000 save $8,000 annually from the mortgage-interest deduction, compared with savings of $3,700 for residents who earn less than $100,000. In Detroit, higher earners save more than $4,000, while those earning less than $100,000 save $1,600."

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