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The tax treatment of homeowners and landlords and the progressivity of income taxation

  • Matthew Chambers
  • Carlos Garriga
  • Don Schlagenhauf

This paper analyzes the connection between the asymmetric tax treatment of homeowners and landlords and the progressivity of income taxation using a quantitative overlapping generations general equilibrium model with housing and rental markets. Our model emphasizes the determinants of tenure choice (owning versus renting) and the household decision to supply housing services to the rental market. This formulation breaks the link between the rental price and the equilibrium interest rate. Hence, the aggregate supply of rental property responds differently to the direction of rental price changes, marginal tax rate changes, and maintenance cost changes. We show that the model replicates the key factors and the distributional patterns of ownership, house size, and landlords. The degree of progressivity in the income tax code has important implications for housing tenure and housing consumption. We find that a movement toward a less progressive income tax code can generate sizable increases in homeownership and welfare that result from the equilibrium effects and a portfolio reallocation mechanism absent in economies with single assets (e.g., Conesa and Krueger 2006). We find that the removal of existing asymmetries in the tax code has effects on housing that differ from those reported in the literature. We show that housing policy can increase the ownership rate of a particular segment of the population but generate nontrivial distributional costs. The welfare increases are no larger than those found when the progressivity of the tax code is reduced.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2008-06.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2008-06
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  1. Edgar O. Olsen, 2003. "Housing Programs for Low-Income Households," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 365-442 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Martin Gervais, 1998. "Housing Taxation and Capital Accumulation," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9807, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
  5. José-Víctor Ríos-Rull & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2008. "An Aggregate Economy with Different Size Houses," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 705-714, 04-05.
  6. Juan Carlos Conesa & Dirk Krueger, 2005. "On the Optimal Progressivity of the Income Tax Code," NBER Working Papers 11044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Henderson, J Vernon & Ioannides, Yannis M, 1983. "A Model of Housing Tenure Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 98-113, March.
  8. Matthew Chambers & Carlos Garriga & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2009. "Accounting For Changes In The Homeownership Rate," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(3), pages 677-726, 08.
  9. Rosen, Harvey S & Rosen, Kenneth T, 1980. "Federal Taxes and Homeownership: Evidence from Time Series," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 59-75, February.
  10. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
  11. Henderson, J. Vernon & Ioannides, Yannis M., 1989. "Dynamic aspects of consumer decisions in housing markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 212-230, September.
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