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Who Cares About Mortgage Interest Deductibility?

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  • Martin Gervais
  • Manish Pandey

Abstract

We use the US Survey of Consumer Finances to measure the change in federal tax liability that would result should mortgage interest no longer be deductible from taxable income. We argue that the elimination of this housing tax provision would lead households to reshuffle their balance sheet, thereby lowering the amount of interest income taxes collected. We find that the cost of this tax provision is between 36 and 66 percent of the estimates produced by the US Office of Management and Budget, depending on the types of assets one assumes would be used to lower mortgage debt following the removal of the provision. Furthermore, since mostly rich households would be in a position to reshuffle their balance sheet following such a change in tax policy, the distributional effects of this program are much smaller than conventionally believed. While the focus of this paper is on the elimination of mortage interest deductibility in the US, the results of this study shed some light on the impact and distributional consequences to expect should mortgage interest deductibility be introduced in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Gervais & Manish Pandey, 2008. "Who Cares About Mortgage Interest Deductibility?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-24, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:34:y:2008:i:1:p:1-24
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Maki, Dean M., 1996. "Portfolio Shuffling and Tax Reform," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(3), pages 317-29, September.
    2. Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Housing taxation and capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1461-1489, October.
    3. Jonathan Skinner & Daniel Feenberg, 1990. "The Impact of the 1986 Tax Reform Act on Personal Saving," NBER Working Papers 3257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kevin Milligan, 2005. "Life-cycle asset accumulation and allocation in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 1057-1106, August.
    5. Richard K. Green & Patric H. Hendershott & Dennis R. Capozza, 1996. "Taxes, Mortgage Borrowing and House Prices," Wisconsin-Madison CULER working papers 96-06, University of Wisconsin Center for Urban Land Economic Research.
    6. Robert M. Dunsky & James R. Follain, 2000. "Tax-Induced Portfolio Reshuffling: The Case of the Mortgage Interest Deduction," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 28(4), pages 683-718.
    7. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
    8. Sule Alan & Søren Leth-Petersen, 2006. "Tax Incentives and Household Portfolios: A Panel Data Analysis," CAM Working Papers 2006-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
    9. Berkovec, James & Fullerton, Don, 1992. "A General Equilibrium Model of Housing, Taxes, and Portfolio Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 390-429, April.
    10. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Brian J. Surette, 2000. "Recent changes in U. S. family finances: results from the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-29.
    11. Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "The Benefits of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 37-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Anastasia Girshina, 2016. "Implications of Fiscal Policy for Housing Tenure Decisions," Working Papers 2014:, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    2. Cole, Adam J. & Gee, Geoffrey & Turner, Nicholas, 2011. "The Distributional and Revenue Consequences of Reforming the Mortgage Interest Deduction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 64(4), pages 977-1000, December.
    3. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Martin Gervais, 2011. "Why Has Home Ownership Fallen Among The Young?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(3), pages 883-912, August.
    4. Hilber , Christian A. L. & Schöni, Olivier, 2016. "Housing Policies in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States: Lessons Learned," ADBI Working Papers 569, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    5. Sule Alan & Søren Leth-Petersen, 2006. "Tax Incentives and Household Portfolios: A Panel Data Analysis," CAM Working Papers 2006-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
    6. Cho, Sang-Wook (Stanley) & Francis, Johanna L., 2011. "Tax treatment of owner occupied housing and wealth inequality," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 42-60, March.
    7. Christian A. L. Hilber & Tracy M. Turner, 2014. "The Mortgage Interest Deduction and its Impact on Homeownership Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 618-637, October.
    8. Poterba, James M. & Sinai, Todd, 2011. "Revenue Costs and Incentive Effects of the Mortgage Interest Deduction for Owner-Occupied Housing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 64(2), pages 531-564, June.
    9. Andrew Bauer & Alan Macnaughton & Anindya Sen, 2015. "Income splitting and anti-avoidance legislation: evidence from the Canadian “kiddie tax”," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(6), pages 909-931, December.
    10. James M. Poterba & Todd M. Sinai, 2008. "Income Tax Provisions Affecting Owner-Occupied Housing: Revenue Costs and Incentive Effects," NBER Working Papers 14253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. James M. Poterba & Arturo Ramirez Verdugo, 2008. "Portfolio Substitution and the Revenue Cost of Exempting State and Local Government Interest Payments from Federal Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 14439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jim MacGee, 2010. "Not Here? Housing Market Policy and the Risk of a Housing Bust," e-briefs 105, C.D. Howe Institute.
    13. Sami Alpanda & Sarah Zubairy, 2016. "Housing and Tax Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(2-3), pages 485-512, March.
    14. Gervais, Martin & Fisher, Jonas, 2009. "Why has home ownership fallen among the young?," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0907, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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