Americans overwhelmingly oppose any action by Congress to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction, according to a new nationwide survey of likely voters commissioned by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Nearly 80 percent support retaining federal tax incentives to promote homeownership, which have been in the tax code since the introduction of federal income taxes in 1913.
"These poll results show strong national voter support for keeping the mortgage interest deduction that cuts across gender, age, partisan, ideological, educational and regional lines," said Neil Newhouse, partner at Public Opinion Strategies, which conducted the survey. "Clearly, voters have a very strong connection to the home mortgage interest deduction and are not likely to respond well to efforts to reduce or eliminate it. In fact, voters overwhelmingly say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported either eliminating or reducing the home mortgage interest deduction."
On the issue of tax reform, U.S. voters remain unwavering in their support of the mortgage interest deduction. When asked to rate the importance of preserving tax deductions in the current tax code, an overwhelming number, 81 percent, said it's important to keep the deduction of mortgage interest on a primary home, ranking it in a virtual tie with medical expenses (82 percent). In addition, more than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) cited the importance of keeping the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes.
Furthermore, those renting their current homes also placed a high priority on preserving the mortgage interest deduction. In ranking the importance of current tax deductions, renters said this provision came in second at 71 percent, behind the deduction for medical expenses.
Public Opinion Strategies conducted the survey Sept. 9 through 12 to assess the public's attitude toward the mortgage interest deduction and the importance of homeownership. Among the poll's key findings:
►79 percent of all respondents—both owners and renters—believe the federal government should provide tax incentives to promote homeownership.
►An even greater percentage of renters—82 percent—favor providing tax incentives to promote homeownership.
►Even when told that getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction would help ease the federal budget deficit, 72 percent of voters opposed any proposal to abolish the home mortgage interest deduction. This strong consensus cuts across partisan lines and home owner status; 76 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Independents and 64 percent of Democrats oppose eliminating the deduction. Meanwhile, 75 percent of home owners and 55 percent of renters also oppose doing away with the home mortgage interest deduction.
70 percent would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who proposed to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction, and 63 percent would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing this tax deduction.
►78 percent of those polled say they currently use the home mortgage interest deduction or have either used it in the past or hope to use it in the future. Among those renting their current home, 58 percent said they have used the mortgage interest deduction in the past or hope to use it in the future.
"As the midterm elections draw near, voters are sending a resounding message to Congress and the Administration: Don't meddle with the mortgage interest deduction or other tax incentives that support homeownership," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "Voters strongly oppose any action to curtail or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, even when they hear an argument that eliminating the deduction would help reduce the federal deficit."
To view findings from the survey, click here.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org.