Mortgage Interest Deduction Changes Would Hurt Middle-Class Families

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIA

Owning a home for most Americans means having a place to raise a family and build a sense of stability and pride. Additionally, the home is the single best long-term investment and a primary source of wealth and financial security. As the foundation of the American dream, home-ownership has long been a milestone that middle-class families strive to achieve and maintain.

For more than a century, Americans have counted on their homes for their children’s education, for their retirement and for their financial security. According to the 2007 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, the median net worth of a homeowner is $234,600, compared to $5,100 for renters.

But as policymakers seeking to reduce the federal deficit consider eliminating or decreasing the mortgage interest deduction, it is younger, middle-class families who would see their long-term financial prospects significantly and negatively affected.

Tampering with the mortgage interest deduction would place more downward pressure on home prices, which would cause more homeowners to have mortgage balances that are higher than their homes are worth, spur more foreclosures, and act as a further drag on the housing and economic recovery. Millions of existing homeowners who are struggling to make ends meet, but still manage to stay current with their mortgage payments, would face a big tax increase they cannot afford.

And claims that the deduction benefits only wealthy taxpayers and that only a small number of homeowners utilize the deduction are misleading.

In reality, 70 percent of homeownership tax benefits go to middle-class homeowners who earn less than $200,000. And out of 75 million homeowners, 35 million claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2009. This doesn’t even take into account the millions of taxpayers who are renters and one day aspire to own a home of their own, and the roughly 25 million who now own their homes free and clear, but used the deduction in the past.

Policymakers looking to create jobs and boost economic growth need look no further than housing. According to data recently shared by economic experts at the National Association of Home Builders in testimony to Congress, building 100 single-family homes creates more than 300 full-time jobs.

Learn more about the threat to the mortgage interest tax deduction and find out how you can take action to protect it at www.SaveMyMortgageInterestDeduction.com, or contact Building Industry Association of Hawaii: www.biahawaii.org.

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president / CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.