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Academics vs. Economists on Mortgage Interest Deductions

Fighting businessmen with boxing gloves

... The mortgage-interest deduction may be your favorite tax break, but be aware that it has some impressive enemies. The fiscal commissions of two different Presidents proposed eliminating it, first in 2005 and then in 2010. There's also a steady stream of research from such places as the London School of Economics and the Brookings Institution arguing that the deduction doesn't boost homeownership, but instead provides incentives for wealthier Americans to buy big houses and take on more debt. ...

... Lobbyists for homebuilders and realtors vigorously defend the usefulness and popularity of the tax break. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, says the deduction has "lowered the cost of ownership" and boosted the homeownership rate, which he describes as "the foundation for a very stable, democratic country." As recently as April, a USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of respondents opposed eliminating the tax break. ...

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