Friday, April 15, 2005
column on the home interest deduction... and its headline, "The mortgage-interest deduction costs taxpayers billions...".
It is revealing, and not surprising, that the writer chooses to portray a deduction in that way, as a 'cost'. To liberals and big government types, the party line is that deductions are a 'cost' to the government, deductions are viewed as 'foregone revenue'. Bush's tax cuts, which lowered tax rates, 'cost' the government. And it's not just liberals in the media who think this way. Slate article cites Cleveland State University College of Law professor Deborah Geier who notes in a recent working paper, "the home-mortgage deduction is the third-largest single "tax expenditure" (bold mine).
Now, I would describe the interest deduction quite differently. After all, aren't taxpayers the beneficiaries of tax deductions? Aren't taxpayers the beneficiaries of lower tax rates, of deductions, of taxes not taken?
To paraphrase the old cliche, were Congress to ever abolish taxes, I'd expect the New York Times headline to read "Taxes abolished, taxpayers hurt most".