Dem report: GOP tax law helps developers, hurts homeowners

Dem report: GOP tax law helps developers, hurts homeowners
© Camille Fine

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsGOP Oversight report says Interior head met with group tied to former clients Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE (D-Md.) on Thursday released a report that argues that the GOP tax law hurts homeowners while benefiting real estate developers.

The report comes as Democrats work to make the case against the tax law ahead of the November midterm elections.

It includes a new estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) that several tax breaks for real estate developers will lead to $66.7 billion in lost federal revenue over a decade.

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“Republicans in Congress punished middle-class American homeowners while lavishing tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks on wealthy real estate developers like President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE and his rich friends," Cummings said in a statement.

The report highlights several aspects of the tax law that impact homeowners.

One provision it focuses on is the tax law's limit on the deduction for interest on home-equity loans. Under the tax law, taxpayers will only be able to claim the deduction if they use the loan proceeds for home improvements.

But Cummings's staff said in the report that most homeowners with home-equity loans use the funds for reasons other than home renovations and that the deduction is limited for people who took out loans before the tax law passed as well as for new loans.

Another provision that the report points to as bad for homeowners is the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction. Cummings's staff said that more than 12 million homeowners would lose their ability to deduct the full amount of their property taxes due to the new cap.

"Although some may reap large financial windfalls as a result of the changes in the new tax law, many American families will be penalized despite their ongoing efforts to faithfully invest in their single biggest asset — their home," Cummings's staff wrote in the report.

The report also gave several examples of provisions in the tax law that benefit real estate developers. These include a 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income that includes a provision that allows property-rich companies to qualify more of their income for the preference, a 20 percent deduction for dividends from real estate investment trusts, an exception for real estate from new limits on business-interest deductions, and an exception for real estate from the repeal of the tax exemption for "like-kind" exchanges of business assets.

Democrats and Republicans are engaged in a messaging battle over the tax law in the lead-up to the midterms. Democrats have been arguing that the law helps wealthy individuals and businesses at the expense of the middle class.

But Republicans have argued that taxpayers who have deductions limited under the tax law often still are better off under the new law since the standard deduction is bigger and tax rates are lower.

The JCT has estimated that in the short-run, taxpayers in all income groups on average will see their taxes decrease. However, in the long-run, after temporary tax cuts for individuals are set to expire, taxpayers in lower income groups would see their taxes go up.