Thursday, December 11, 2014

County-level map shows mortgage interest deductions; rates higher in West, East Coast

Brookings has created a county-level interactive map that looks at the mortgage interest deduction (MID) on owner-occupied homes. "The MID allows taxpayers to deduct mortgage interest on up to $1 million in debt used to purchase or refinance a primary or secondary home, as well as for up to $100,000 of home equity debt not used to buy, build or improve the home," Benjamin Harris and Lucie Parker write for Brookings. "The MID is available only to the minority of households whose combined itemized deductions—which include such items as state and local taxes paid and charitable contributions, as well as mortgage interest—exceed the standard deduction."

The average mortgage interest deducted ranged from $3,450 to $18,692. "Income and housing differences fuel geographic variation in the mortgage interest deduction," Harris and Parker write. "Higher income taxpayers are more likely to have itemized deductions that exceed the standard deduction; taxpayers in areas with high housing values are also more likely to have larger mortgages and subsequently pay more in mortgage interest." (Brookings map: Average mortgage interest deducted in 2012. To view the interactive map click here)
"This geographic variation leads to a large gap between low and high claiming counties," Harris and Parker write. The bottom 10 counties have taxpayer claim rates of 7.3 percent or lower, while the top 10 have claim rates of 28.3 percent or higher. Adding in itemized deductions and the bottom 10 have mortgage interest deductions of $5,241 or lower, while the top 10 have deductions of $9,433 or greater.

"Deductible mortgage interest tends to be highest in the West, on the East Coast and near some metropolitan areas inland," Harris and Parker write. "Deductible mortgage interest is particularly high in California and the Northeast. Inland states east of the Mississippi tend to have lower housing values and, subsequently, fewer deductions for mortgage interest." (Read more)

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