Nov 272017

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By G. Steven Bray

The tax reform plans currently being considered in Washington could change the mortgage interest deduction, and housing industry leaders are asserting that the change is going to decimate homebuying. Let’s see if the facts support their outrage.

Currently, only 21% of taxpayers use the mortgage interest deduction, and most reside in coastal states where home prices and/or property taxes are high.

If the House tax reform plan were to become law, the loan amount eligible for the mortgage interest deduction would drop from $1 million to $500k, and it would reduce the maximum deduction for property taxes to $10k.

Let’s consider the case of couple with a $300k mortgage. In the first year, they would pay roughly $13k in mortgage interest. If we assume their yearly property tax bill is $7k, they probably would be much better off under the House tax plan. Instead of a $20k deduction, they would get a $24k standard deduction. And remember that mortgage interest declines over the life of the loan, so the advantage of the new plan would increase each year.

Given that the median home price in TX is $269k, most TX homebuyers clearly would be better off under the new plan. Those who would be worse off will be folks who have mortgages greater than $500k and folks in areas with very high property taxes. Thus, any effects to the TX housing industry would be limited to high-end communities.

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