December 10, 2012 16:51 Age: 1 yrs

Brown Tells NPR Mortgage Interest and Charitable Giving Deductions Should Go

As the so-called “fiscal cliff” nears, some previously untouchable aspects of the tax code—mortgage interest and charitable giving deductions—may be considered a little less sacred, according to a story that aired Monday in NPR’s “Tell Me More” series.

Emory Law Professor Dorothy Brown joined NPR’s White House Correspondent Scott Horsley and host Michel Martin for a discussion of how budget negotiations might affect tax credits given for home mortgage interest and donations to charities. Brown said she believes eliminating both deductions should be on the table.

Horsley pointed out only about 30 percent of Americans who file taxes itemize their returns—the only way these credits can be claimed. Brown added that home ownership rates in the U.S. are nearly identical to ownership in countries that offer no mortgage interest deduction.

“The mortgage interest deduction does not encourage home ownership, even though people say it does,” Brown said.

Both Brown and Horsley said the tax code tends to benefit the wealthy, not the 65 to 70 percent of Americans who take the standard government deduction.

While many low-income Americans regularly donate to charity, they don’t get the same credit as wealthy taxpayers, Brown said, because they don’t fill out schedule A. Those people aren’t going to stop giving to charity if the deduction goes away, she said.

Related links:

Listen to the “Tell Me More” story on NPR

Professor Brown’s profile

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