New research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that the benefits of housing-related tax deductions, such as the mortgage interest deduction, generally decline in value as individuals age. Using Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income (SOI) data, NAHB was able to report for the first time how various tax deductions are used by different age groups. The analysis demonstrates that the biggest beneficiaries are younger households, who typically have large mortgages, small amounts of equity in their homes and growing families.
“Opponents falsely argue that the deduction is only for the wealthy, but it is clear that the mortgage interest deduction is also of great value to younger homeowners,” said Robert Dietz, assistant vice president for Tax and Policy Issues for NAHB. “Any tampering with this deduction would have a disproportionate impact, as a share of household income, on younger homeowners who have relatively higher mortgage interest payments. These are households who have growing demand for homeownership due to marriages and children.”
The average mortgage interest deduction peaks for taxpayers in the 35 to under-45 age group, followed by the 18-to 34-aged taxpayers, and declines as the taxpayer gets older. According to the research, this occurs because the mortgage interest deduction peaks soon after the taxpayer moves from renting to homeownership, and declines over time as homeowners pay down existing mortgage debt and increase homeowner equity.
When examining the age distribution of those claiming the deduction for mortgage insurance, which is associated with homeowners making a downpayment of less than 20%, the analysis found that the largest share—59%—goes to those aged 18 to under-45.
The age-related pattern for the smaller tax deduction for local and state real estate taxes, however, differs slightly. Unlike the mortgage interest deduction, which declines in value as taxpayers age, the value of the real estate tax deduction increases as taxpayers age, primarily due to increases in home values as household income and wealth increases.
The report also shows that both housing deductions—for mortgage interest and real estate taxes—fall as a share of household income for older taxpayers. In contrast, the share of other non-housing deductions, such as the medical expense, charitable contribution, and investment interest expense deductions, rises for taxpayers who are 65 and older.