Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NAR Against Tax Reform is Self Interest Over Common Sense

The National Association of Realtors nearly immediately met today's Trump administration tax reform policy announcement with outright rejection suggesting that the proposed changes were placing "home-ownership in the cross-hairs" and further suggested that the proposed tax changes would "nullify" the current tax benefits of owning a home.

It's important to note though that the primary issue that the NAR has taken with the proposal has only to do with how it may change the use of the mortgage interest deduction (and NOT the primary residence exclusion which the administration directly indicated was unaffected) which would only come as a result of the proposed increase in the standard deduction.

Since, under the Trump proposal, individuals and households would have a larger standard deduction (apparently 2x larger!) there would fewer tax filers itemizing their deductions (i.e. they would be taking the standard deduction in lieu of itemizing) and thus fewer caring about the tax "benefit" of taking on a mortgage.

So, while the presumed impact of the loss of this "benefit" has the NAR concerned about their private interest, common sense tells us that this is not a loss in any normal sense and further that taxpayers overall would be better off with a 2x increase in their standard deduction than the perverse incentive of taking on more housing debt.

UPDATE: Apparently the mortgage interest deduction is now NOT changing so NAR need not reject major tax reform only to protect their own self interest.