Does the tax relief for homeownership have effect on household mortgage leverage?

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Technická Univerzita v Liberci
Technical university of Liberec, Czech Republic
This article presents results of the analysis of the relationship between the tax relief for the homeownership and the household mortgage debt. The advantageous treatment of housing is provided especially by a personal income tax if owner-occupiers do not report imputed rents as income but can deduct mortgage interest costs. This preferred tax status is justified by the existence of positive externalities and a desire to enhance housing opportunities available to citizens. However, evidence that the housing policy via the taxation achieves its objectives is still weak. Moreover the tax provisions for the homeownership benefit rather higher-income households. Furthermore there are indications that the housing taxation encourages levered property purchases and thus contributes to the household debt growth. Since the household indebtedness can have adverse effects on households and macroeconomic performance we focused on the issue whether the income tax relief for homeowners that finance their dwellings via a mortgage does affect the household leverage. We constructed the variable capturing especially the mortgage interest payments deductibility. We employed the multiple regression and data for the former 15 EU member countries (except Greece) for the period 2004-2013. We estimated two models for two representative taxpayers who vary in a family status using the panel data analysis with fixed effects. From our results we inferred that the income tax relief for the homeownership might not have influenced the mortgage leverage significantly in the selected European countries in the given period. The mortgage debt was affected rather by the economic level, price of own housing, mortgage interest payments or demographic structure.
household indebtedness, housing taxation, mortgage interest deductibility