Tax Deductions in Peril? Americans Prefer Mortgage Break to Item on Charity

Article excerpt

Americans would be more willing to give up the tax deduction for charitable giving than some other popular tax breaks, including the one for the interest on their home mortgages.

That poll result, which emerged in a new Christian Science Monitor/TIPP survey of US adults, arrives as President Obama and congressional lawmakers are bargaining over ways to reduce future federal deficits, while also avoiding a "fiscal cliff" of scheduled tax hikes that could send the economy into recession.

To reduce federal deficits, the options boil down to various ways to cut spending or raise taxes. And on the tax front, some elected officials in both parties argue that limiting deductions would be a way to raise new revenue without harming the economy as much as a boost in tax rates.

The poll, conducted last week, asked "If you were to eliminate one popular deduction in the tax code, please tell me which of the following five will be your choice?" The survey then offered five options, including deductions for charitable giving, mortgage interest, state taxes paid, employer-sponsored health insurance, and retirement savings.

Some 25 percent of poll respondents chose the one for charitable giving, which made it the leading candidate for cutting. It was followed by the deduction for state taxes (chosen by 22 percent of respondents), the mortgage interest deduction (19 percent), and the one for employer-sponsored health insurance (14 percent). …

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