2017-12-17 —

Today, a little under half of American homes are worth enough to justify itemizing mortgage interest and property taxes. Under the tax legislation, that figure would fall to close to 14 percent, according to an analysis of the plan by the online real estate marketplace Zillow.

The Republican plan, in short, is tinkering with subsidies so entrenched in the social fabric that they have become entitlements in all but name.


All this has made homeowner subsidies, in particular the mortgage interest deduction, one of the rare tax breaks with critics across the political spectrum. Matthew Desmond, a Princeton sociologist who studies how eviction wreaks havoc on the lives on the poor, has documented how the deduction became the "engine of American inequality" because it favors higher-income homeowners.

Edward J. Pinto, co-director of the conservative American Enterprise Institute's Center for Housing Markets and Finance, has described the interest deduction and other homeowner subsidies as a wasteful giveaway that inflates home prices and encourages people to borrow excessively.


The bill does retain significant subsidies, allowing home buyers to deduct interest on mortgages as high as $750,000 -- accounting for the vast majority -- and up to $10,000 total in property taxes and state and local income taxes. But real estate agents have portrayed the changes as a full-blown attack on their industry.

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