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Taxation and Debt Financing of Home Acquisition: Evidence from the Finnish 1993 Tax Reform

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  • Tuukka Saarimaa

Abstract

The 1993 Finnish tax reform reduced the incentives to use debt financing in home acquisition for high-income households. Before the reform mortgage interest was deductible according to a progressive schedule creating a so-called upside-down effect, which means that the benefit from the deduction was the greater the higher was taxpayer?s income. After the reform, the deduction is made according to a flat schedule, and thus, the size of the benefit no longer depends on taxpayer?s income. We use household level data from the Income Distribution Survey of Statistics Finland to study whether high-income households have responded to the reform. Using tobit, Heckman and two-part model on repeated cross-sectional data from 1990?2000 we find that the probability of having a mortgage debt is clearly less dependent on the income of household?s head after the tax reform. This income variable measures the tax deduction effect and we conclude that the 1993 tax reform was behind the observed behavioural change. The results for the amount of mortgage debt conditional on a positive amount are more ambiguous. It seems that the tax reform had no or very little effect on the demand for the amount of mortgage debt.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) in its series Discussion Papers with number 366.

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Date of creation: 06 Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fer:dpaper:366

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Keywords: Mortgage interest deduction; tax reform; mortgage demand;

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  1. Triest, Robert K., 1998. "Econometric Issues in Estimating the Behavioral Response to Taxation: A Nontechnical Introduction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 761-72, December.
  2. Joshua Angrist, 1999. "Estimation of Limited-Dependent Variable Models with Dummy Endogenous Regressors: Simple Strategies for Empirical Practice," Working papers 99-31, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. James R. Follain, 1990. "Mortgage Choice†," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 18(2), pages 125-144.
  4. Ling, David C. & McGill, Gary A., 1998. "Evidence on the Demand for Mortgage Debt by Owner-Occupants," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 391-414, November.
  5. Maki, Dean M., 1996. "Portfolio Shuffling and Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(3), pages 317-29, September.
  6. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  7. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  8. Jones, Lawrence D., 1995. "Net wealth, marginal tax rates and the demand for home mortgage debt," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 297-322, June.
  9. Brueckner, Jan K., 1994. "The Demand for Mortgage Debt: Some Basic Results," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 251-262, December.
  10. James M. Poterba, 2001. "Taxation and Portfolio Structure: Issues and Implications," NBER Working Papers 8223, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dean M. Maki, 2001. "Household Debt and the Tax Reform Act of 1986," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 305-319, March.
  12. Alan J. Auerbach & Joel Slemrod, 1997. "The Economic Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 589-632, June.
  13. McDonald, John F & Moffitt, Robert A, 1980. "The Uses of Tobit Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(2), pages 318-21, May.
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