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Is Sharif's Castle Deductible?: Islam and the Tax Treatment of Mortgage Debt


Roberta F. Mann


University of Oregon School of Law

May 14, 2009

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 17, pp. 1139-1169, 2009
Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 09-69

Abstract:     
This article examines the tax treatment of Islamic mortgage alternatives and considers the cultural and constitutional implications of the tax treatment of mortgage debt. Islamic law cannot be separated from the religion of Islam, and one of the primary tenets of Islamic law is the prohibition of riba, which is defined by some Islamic jurists as the payment of interest on any loan. Financing institutions, working with Muslim religious leaders, have developed a number of financing instruments that do not violate the prohibition against riba, thus facilitating home ownership for those Muslims who do not feel comfortable with a traditional mortgage. This article considers whether payments under such instruments should qualify for the home mortgage interest deduction and the potential consequences of either permitting or denying a deduction for such payments. I will discuss the constitutional implications of denying a tax deduction and administrative and regulatory options to accommodate tax deduction of payments under Muslim mortgage alternatives. Finally, I conclude that the issue of religious discrimination in the tax treatment of housing should motivate remodeling the home mortgage interest deduction.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: taxation, religion, Islam

JEL Classification: H24, K34, N20

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Date posted: May 25, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Mann, Roberta F., Is Sharif's Castle Deductible?: Islam and the Tax Treatment of Mortgage Debt (May 14, 2009). William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Vol. 17, pp. 1139-1169, 2009; Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 09-69. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1409466

Contact Information

Roberta F. Mann (Contact Author)
University of Oregon School of Law ( email )
1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR 97403
United States
541-346-3854 (Phone)
541-346-1564 (Fax)
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