Mortgage interest tax break: sacred cow or cash cow?

Weighing the pros and cons

As part of the attempt to reduce deficit spending, the leaders of a White House deficit reduction commission had recommended scaling back the mortgage interest deduction.

The proposals did not win the endorsement of the full commission — 11 members of the 18-member commission accepted the report, which is three votes shy of what was needed to bring the proposal to a vote by Congress. The National Association of Realtors aggressively opposed the proposals, and vowed to fight any proposal that diminished the deductibility of mortgage interest.

But some of the proposals considered by the commission could return in federal legislation. And Congress may weigh whether tinkering with the popular tax break for homeowners would assist an ailing economy, or whether it’s best not to mess with one of real estate’s most sacred cows.