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September 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

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Attempts to close the mortgage-deduction loophole

Smacks of ‘class warfare’

I was pretty bemused to read the syndicated column by Froma Harrop [“Close the mortgage-deduction loophole,” Opinion, Sept. 16] that proposed closing the mortgage-deduction loophole.

While it might be intellectually pure (and in her opinion brave) to propose that we should immediately start treating home purchase the same way in the tax code that we treat cars and other physical items that we purchase, her assertion that doing this in some amorphous gradual way will have no effect on the wealth of the middle class or the housing market makes me think she must have been in some sort of “Sleeping Beauty” dream state since 2007.

I totally agree that our tax code is a humongous mess, but simply picking this one deduction (and labeling it a loophole) when it is one of the only deductions available to the middle class bespeaks an attitude that the actual loopholes that heavily favor the wealthy and ultrawealthy will be left untouched.

The elimination of the mortgage-interest deduction even over a period of years will have the effect of depressing house prices for many many years to come. This is probably great news for new homebuyers and for wealthy real-estate investors looking to find bargains, but it will likely destroy the little wealth that the U.S.’s middle class has left after the recession. It will almost certainly wipe out the hope that the construction, architecture and engineering professions can recover after what has been a devastating body blow far beyond the general employment numbers, even in Seattle where we are actually seeing a sort of construction recovery the employment numbers in the industry are still a fraction of the pre-recession days.

Responsible, comprehensive tax reform is a great idea, but eliminating the one deduction that helps the middle class (vs. the loopholes that allow millionaires and billionaires to pay lower rates than most of us) is what some of us might call “class warfare.”

— Nic Rossouw, Seattle

An eye-opener

Froma Harrop’s “Close the mortgage-deduction loophole” was an eye-opener for me. [“Close the mortgage-deduction loophole,” Opinion, Sept. 16.]

I certainly have benefited from mortgage-interest deductions, but I hadn’t really thought how unfair it is to others!

A related point is that in this economy, a jobless homeowner cannot easily pick up and move to where a job is if they have to sell their house first.

Perhaps our goal of everyone being a homeowner should be rethought.

— Larry Donohue, Seattle


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