U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stressed that the Trump administration isn’t out to kill Americans’ beloved mortgage-interest tax deduction, but a side effect of the plan could turn it into a perk reserved for the wealthy.
President Trump has proposed rewriting the tax code to raise the standard federal deduction to a level where about 25 million homeowners would no longer take advantage of the century-old break.
A married couple would need a home-loan balance of about $608,000—almost triple the mortgage on a median-priced U.S. home—before using it would make sense, according to a new analysis by Trulia. That would be up from about $322,000 today.
Without the incentives, along with a proposed end to local property tax deductions, home sales may be hurt in cities where prices are rising quickly and buyers are stretching to afford their purchases.
Reduced demand would weigh on values, causing price declines nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors, which opposes the change.
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics Inc., calls the proposal a backdoor way of rendering the mortgage interest deduction close to worthless.
But White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom counters, saying low- and middle-income families would be better off under Trump’s proposal, which she says would put “more disposable income in their pockets for them to invest in a home, purchase a car, save for their children’s college—any other expense.”