Fiscal battle over mortgage deduction

CNN MoneyBy Jennifer Liberto @CNNMoney


The Fiscal Cliff’s Impact on Homeowners

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — Washington should stay away from touching the mortgage interest tax deduction, warns the U.S. housing industry.

Lately, housing is on the mend and one of the few bright spots in a lumbering economic recovery. Taking away a key tax break could throw a wrench into home buying plans and hurt a long-sputtering recovery.

Lawmakers in both parties are on the lookout for tax revenue as a way to avert the fiscal cliff.

But the housing industry is preparing to fight against any move to get rid of the mortgage interest tax break.

“[Getting rid of it] would throw the housing sector into turmoil … and chill the market just as it is trying to recover,” said Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders.

Powerful housing lobbying groups are taking their fight to the grass roots, armed with granular data on the benefits of the homeowner tax break in every congressional district.

Lobbyists from the industry have spent a combined $30 million this year, up from $27 million last year, according to Center for Responsive Politics figures. The bulk of that came from the powerful group, the National Association of Realtors, which spent a record $25 million on lobbying this year, more than any other year, federal records show.

They’re ensuring that leaders don’t do anything “penny-wise and pound foolish,” said David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

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