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Inflation, Income Taxes, and Owner-Occupied Housing

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  • James M. Poterba

Abstract

Owner-occupied housing receives favorable treatment under current tax law for several reasons. A homeowner's imputed rent is not taxed, and mortgage interest payments are tax deductible. Many past studies have analyzed the effects of these provisions. Inflation's importance in determining the implicit subsidy to owner-occupied housing has received less attention. Since home- owners can deduct their nominal mortgage payments, they do not bear the full cost of higher interest rates. They also receive essentially untaxed capital gains on their homes during periods of high inflation. The after-tax capital gains outweigh the higher after-tax interest payments, so inflation reduces the effective cost of homeownership. This paper develops a simple model to estimate the effect of higher expected inflation rates on the real price of houses and the equilibrium housing stock. Simulation results suggest that the inflation-tax interactions can have a substantial impact on the housing market. The increases in expected inflation during the 1970s could have accounted for as much as a thirty percent increase in real house prices. Over time, builders should respond to higher home prices and increase the amount of new construction. The persistence of current inflation rates could lead ultimately to a twenty percent increase in the housing stock.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba, 1980. "Inflation, Income Taxes, and Owner-Occupied Housing," NBER Working Papers 0553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0553
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kearl, J R & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1977. "Illiquidity, the Demand for Residential Housing, and Monetary Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(5), pages 1571-1586, December.
    2. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1983. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and the Long-term Interest Rate," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 153-185 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. James G. Witte & Jr., 1963. "The Microfoundations of the Social Investment Function," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71, pages 441-441.
    4. David Lipton & James M. Poterba & Jeffrey Sachs & Lawrence H. Summers, 1983. "Multiple Shooting in Rational Expectations Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0003, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. de Leeuw, Frank, 1971. "The Demand for Housing: A Review of Cross-Section Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 53(1), pages 1-10, February.
    6. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Ellwood, David T, 1979. "An Empirical Reconciliation of Micro and Grouped Estimates of the Demand for Housing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 199-205, May.
    7. Meltzer, Allan H, 1974. "Credit Availability and Economic Decisions: Some Evidence from the Mortgage and Housing Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(3), pages 763-777, June.
    8. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-1176, December.
    9. Patric H. Hendershott & Sheng Cheng Hu, 1979. "Inflation and the Benefits from Owner-Occupied Housing," NBER Working Papers 0383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lawrence H. Summers, 1980. "Inflation, Taxation, and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," NBER Working Papers 0604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1989. "Tax policy, asset prices, and growth : A general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 265-296, April.
    3. Martin Feldstein, 1982. "The Fiscal Framework of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 0966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Patric H. Hendershott & David C. Ling, 1984. "Prospective Changes in Tax Law and the Value of Depreciable Real Estate," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 12(3), pages 297-317.
    5. Martin Feldstein, 1982. "Inflation, Capital Taxation, and Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 153-168 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Olivier J. Blanchard & Mark W. Watson, 1982. "Bubbles, Rational Expectations and Financial Markets," NBER Working Papers 0945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1984. "Taxation and Savings: A Neoclassical Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 1576-1629, December.
    8. Martin Feldstein, 1980. "Inflation, Portfolio Choice, and the Price of Land and Corporate Stock," NBER Working Papers 0526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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