I live in subsidized housing. What's that, you're thinking? You've got a phud and a job and stuff, what do you mean?
I'm talking about middle class housing subsidies, being able to take mortgage and property tax payments off my income tax.
I'm especially aware of this today because I went to pay my property tax this morning. The local property tax office closed at noon today, so I went before that so I can go out of town and not worry about coming back in a specific time or day and such. I'd like to whine about the tax office closing early today, but I just don't have the energy. I'm so far behind on grading that I'm thinking of going out to get more chocolate covered raisins. But I bet the people who got the afternoon off really appreciate the time, and I don't grudge them that.
I'm not thrilled with the middle class housing subsidy, but I take advantage of it because it amounts to a lot of money in my budget. All said, I'm guessing it sort of evens out with my overall income tax burden. I pay taxes, the government lets me take off, and so forth. I probably pay a little to let others off, or maybe someone else pays to let me off. And we all pay the IRS workers to figure the calculations out.
The policy benefits people who make enough money to buy a home and afford a mortgage.
And because most middle class folks know about it, we take on mortgages that might be bigger than we should, running up our debt, building our equity at the expense of the community. But we're also as a nation running ourselves further into debt. I know folks who've been living in the same house for nearly 20 years, who keep re-financing, and so who've never managed to actually build much equity (though, given where they live, when they sell, they'll probably make solid capital gains).
So I wonder if we're not doing ourselves a disservice nationally by encouraging middle class people to take on higher debt?
Would we actually do better to get rid of the middle class housing subsidy? I'm guessing it would be better for some folks, worse for others. And I'm guessing the people it's best for are the ones who having higher mortgages and property taxes.