The importance of tax incentives

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

As house and senate lawmakers consider slashing tax breaks as part of their tax reform process, they should listen to the voters who put them in office and they will hear a loud and clear message: Americans overwhelmingly believe the mortgage interest deduction is an important middle-class tax provision that is worth keeping. The latest poll documenting this strong belief is a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted in July 2013.

When the surveyed adults were asked how important it is to keep the mortgage interest deduction for people who own homes, 61 percent of respondents said it was “very important,” and an additional 25 percent said it was “somewhat important.”

The proposals that government policymakers are considering would greatly harm home owners, home buyers, the housing market and the nation’s economy — even though national policy has acknowledged the importance of the home in American family life for almost a century. These proposals include threats to the mortgage interest deduction, instituting a standard 20 percent downpayment on home loans, and ending the federal backstop for housing, which would make the 30-year mortgage less accessible and more expensive. Americans’ opinions on these issues have remained consistent, even as the economy has struggled to recover from the recession.

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Surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012 on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders by the Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners polling firms had similar results. Both surveys found that an overwhelming majority of American voters strongly value homeownership and would oppose efforts to weaken or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction or diminish a federal role to help qualified home buyers obtain affordable 30-year mortgages. And a 2011 New York Times/CBS News poll found that more than 90 percent of American adults said that it is important for the federal government to continue the mortgage interest deduction.

Owning a home has allowed generations of American families to build a sense of stability, pride and accomplishment. Homeownership has also always been — and continues to be — the single best long-term investment for most Americans, serving as a primary source of wealth and financial security, helping to provide for education, retirement and more for many households.

Politicians seeking to reduce the deficit by reducing or eliminating government incentives to own a home need to remember that Americans — and the American economy — remain committed to the American Dream of homeowner-ship.

Please email or call your senators Brian Schatz or Maize Hirono and representatives Colleen Hanabusa or Tulsi Gabbard to let them know what the mortgage interest deduction means to you. Ask them to preserve the deduction.

For more information on the value of homeownership, and how you can protect it, go to ProtectHomeownership.com

Karen Nakamura is CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.