Ever since the federal income tax was introduced in 1913, the government has used the tax code to encourage homeownership. Now, as a result of the effort to reduce the federal deficit, the mortgage interest deduction is under fire. Proposed changes to the tax code would have a dramatic impact on home owners and would significantly reduce the value of this deduction.
How would the proposal to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction and replace it with a 12 percent nonrefundable tax credit affect a typical home owner?
Suppose a home owner paying $10,000 in mortgage interest in a year faces a marginal tax rate of 25 percent and, to keep things simple, has enough other itemized deductions that they would itemize regardless of the mortgage interest deduction.
For that home owner, the mortgage interest deduction is worth approximately 25 percent times $10,000 or $2,500 in reduced taxes paid. With a 12 percent tax credit, the home owner’s tax benefit would be reduced to $10,000 times 12 percent or $1,200.
Moreover, if other proposals affecting housing-related deductions went into effect, home owners would not be able to deduct their state and local property taxes or the interest on any home equity loan they might have and they would pay higher tax on a principal residence when sold.