The Official Online Weekly Newspaper of NAHB
Americans overwhelmingly oppose any action by Congress to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction, according to a new nationwide survey of likely voters commissioned by NAHB. Nearly 80% support retaining federal tax incentives to promote homeownership, which have been in the tax code since the introduction of federal income taxes in 1913.
"These poll results show strong national voter support for keeping the mortgage interest deduction that cuts across gender, age, partisan, ideological, educational and regional lines," said Neil Newhouse, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, which conducted the survey. "Clearly, voters have a very strong connection to the home mortgage interest deduction and are not likely to respond well to efforts to reduce or eliminate it. In fact, voters overwhelmingly say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supported either eliminating or reducing the home mortgage interest deduction."
On the issue of tax reform, U.S. voters remain unwavering in their support of the mortgage interest deduction. When asked to rate the importance of preserving tax deductions in the current tax code, an overwhelming share — 81% — said it's important to keep the deduction of mortgage interest on a primary home, ranking it in a virtual tie with medical expenses (82%). In addition, more than three-quarters of respondents (76%) cited the importance of keeping the deduction for state and local taxes, including property taxes.
Furthermore, those renting their current homes also placed a high priority on preserving the mortgage interest deduction: 71% cited the importance of the deduction, ranking it in second place among current tax deductions, behind the deduction for medical expenses.
Public Opinion Strategies conducted the survey on Sept. 9 through 12 to assess the public's attitude toward the mortgage interest deduction and the importance of homeownership. Among the poll's key findings:
- 79% of all respondents — both owners and renters — believe the federal government should provide tax incentives to promote homeownership.
- An even greater percentage of renters — 82% — favor providing tax incentives to promote homeownership.
- Even when told that getting rid of the mortgage interest deduction would help ease the federal budget deficit, 72% of voters opposed any proposal to abolish it. This strong consensus cuts across partisan lines and home owner status; 76% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 64% of Democrats oppose eliminating the deduction. Meanwhile, 75% of home owners and 55% of renters also oppose doing away with the home mortgage interest deduction.
- 70% would be less likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who proposed to eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction, and 63% would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing this tax deduction.
- 78% of those polled say they currently use the home mortgage interest deduction or have either used it in the past or hope to use it in the future. Among those renting their current home, 58% said they have used the mortgage interest deduction in the past or hope to use it in the future.
"As the midterm elections draw near, voters are sending a resounding message to Congress and the Administration: Don't meddle with the mortgage interest deduction or other tax incentives that support homeownership," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones. "Voters strongly oppose any action to curtail or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, even when they hear an argument that eliminating the deduction would help reduce the federal deficit."
To view key findings from the survey, click here.
The telephone poll included a nationwide sample of 800 likely voters. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 3.46%.