Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828970
 


 



Inequality and the Mortgage Interest Deduction


Daniel Jacob Hemel


University of Chicago Law School

Kyle Rozema


Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

August 24, 2016

Forthcoming, Tax Law Review, 2017
University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 775
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 593
Kreisman Working Papers Series in Housing Law and Policy No. 39

Abstract:     
The mortgage interest deduction is often criticized for contributing to after-tax income inequality. Yet the effects of the mortgage interest deduction on income inequality are more nuanced than the conventional wisdom would suggest. We show that the mortgage interest deduction causes high-income households (i.e., those in the top 10% and top 1%) to bear a larger share of the total tax burden than they would if the deduction were repealed. We further show that the effect of the mortgage interest deduction on income inequality is highly sensitive to the alternative scenario against which the deduction is evaluated. These findings demonstrate that claims about the distributional effects of the mortgage interest deduction depend critically on the counterfactual to which the status quo is compared. We extend our analysis to the deduction for state and local taxes and the charitable contribution deduction. We conclude that the appropriate counterfactual for distributional claims is dependent upon political context — and, in particular, on the feasible set of politically acceptable reforms up for consideration.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 42

Keywords: mortgage interest deduction, inequality, tax expenditures, state and local tax deduction, charitable contribution deduction, political economy

JEL Classification: K34, H20, H22, H23, H24, R38, D63


Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: August 25, 2016 ; Last revised: September 24, 2016

Suggested Citation

Hemel, Daniel Jacob and Rozema, Kyle, Inequality and the Mortgage Interest Deduction (August 24, 2016). Forthcoming, Tax Law Review, 2017; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 775; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 593; Kreisman Working Papers Series in Housing Law and Policy No. 39. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828970

Contact Information

Daniel Jacob Hemel (Contact Author)
University of Chicago Law School ( email )
1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Kyle Rozema
Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.kylerozema.com

Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 814
Downloads: 165
Download Rank: 143,064