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How Trump’s tax plan would impact the mortgage interest deduction

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In the US you can reduce your taxable income by deducting the mortgage interest you pay toward your principal residence. You can’t do this in Canada, at least not on the property where you live.

However, there are limitations. It is capped at loans up to $500,000 or up to $1M if you’re married and you file jointly. On the other end of the spectrum, you also need a loan big enough such that an itemized deduction will save you more money than the standard deduction.

Not surprisingly, the MID is popular among homeowners. And from a public policy standpoint, one of its selling features is that it’s supposed to stimulate homeownership. But many have argued that it doesn’t actually do this – it unequally benefits people with larger mortgages. (Canada has a higher homeownership rate than the US.)

Right now it looks like you need to buying a home worth at least $305,000 in order for the mortgage interest deduction to make economic sense for you. Again, if your loan isn’t big enough, you’re simply going to opt for the standard deduction. 

In 2015, about 22% of all US taxpayers opted to take advantage of the MID. According to Zillow, only about 29% of all homes in the US are valuable enough for the MID to actually make sense. Though in some cities, like San Francisco, it’s pretty much all of the homes. Of course.

Zillow also recently looked at what the recent tax reforms put forward by the Trump Administration would mean for the MID and the real estate market

One of proposed changes is a doubling of the standard deduction. What this means, based on Zillow’s math, is that you would need to be buying a home worth at least $801,000 today for the MID to make sense. This also means that the deduction would now only benefit about 5% of all homes in the US.

This would seem to only exacerbate the criticism that the MID does not in fact stimulate homeownership in the segment of the market that needs it the most. But perhaps this is the only politically palatable way of removing it – gradually.

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

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