Ax may fall on tax break for mortgages

Walter Alarkon
The Hill
6/8/2010

The popular tax break for mortgage interest, once considered untouchable, is falling under the scrutiny of policymakers and economic experts seeking ways to close huge deficits.

Although Congress last year rejected the White House’s proposed cut to the amount wealthier taxpayers can deduct for home mortgage interest payments, the administration included it again in its 2010 budget — saying it could save $208 billion over the next decade.

And now that sentiment has turned against all the federal red ink — and cost-cutting is in vogue — Democrats on President Barack Obama’s financial commission are considering the wisdom of permanent tax breaks such as the mortgage deduction and corporate deferral. Calling them “tax entitlements,” senior Democratic lawmakers have argued they should be on the table for reform just like traditional entitlement programs Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.
The new spotlight on the mortgage deduction and other tax expenditures comes as the Obama administration and Congress consider ways to reduce deficits the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects will average nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.

Policymakers seeking savings have tried to cap the mortgage interest deduction before — and failed. Five years ago, a bipartisan tax reform commission created by President George W. Bush proposed ending the mortgage tax break. But the commission’s plan stalled in Congress, partly because of popular support for the mortgage deduction.

The article continues at The Hill.

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