Housing and the Tax System: How Large Are the Distortions in the Euro Area?
35 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 12, 2017
This paper presents new evidence on the impact of the preferential treatment of owner-occupied housing in Europe. We find that tax benefits to homeowners reduce the user cost of housing capital by almost 40 percent compared to the efficient level under neutral taxation. On average, the tax subsidy translates into an excess consumption of housing services equivalent to 7.8 percent of the value of owner-occupied housing, or about 30 percent of financial asset holdings in household portfolios. The bulk of the subsidies stems from under-taxation of the return to home equity, while the average contribution of the tax rebate for mortgage interest payments is driven down by relatively low loanto-value ratios in the data. However, at the margin, the tax–induced incentive to use mortgage debt to finance the purchase of the main residence is sizable.
Keywords: Taxation, Owner-Occupied Housing, User Cost
JEL Classification: H24, H31, D14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation