We Need Your Help to Stop the Minnesota House of Representatives

Below is a press release sent to Minnesota Realtors regarding some important tax law modifications that will negatively impact homeowners in our state. Please take the time to read the below information and take action via the link below. All of us need to come together to protect our real estate market.

From the Minnesota Association of Realtors:

“On Monday, the Minnesota House of Representatives Tax Committee released a “delete all amendment” to HF2323 and added provisions that are negative for real estate in the Omnibus Tax Bill. Authored by DFL Representative Ann Lenczewski, it contains a number of tax law modifications that hurt all Minnesota home owners. We need you to review and distribute this “Call to Action” to your clients, customers, and friends.

BACKGROUND: The Minnesota legislature and many other state governments find themselves in a situation familiar to many Minnesota households – their expenses have outpaced their revenue. Whether it is your family budget, a business budget or government budget, when expenses are higher than income you have to make choices. Since 1992, even with all of the Budget Shortfalls Minnesota has faced, the spending has increased each and every year. In fact, Minnesota State spending has gone from $14.5 billion in 1992/93 to $34.6 billion in 2008/09 – that’s a whopping 138 percent increase.

To resolve the budget shortfall, legislators have a number of options: 1) raise taxes to cover the government spending; 2) reduce spending to equalize the revenue projected; 3) raise revenue and reduce spending. The House/Senate DFL plans focus on option 3 – raise taxes and reduce spending. Governor Pawlenty has proposed a plan focused on reducing spending and raising revenue without raising taxes.

HOUSE TAX BILL HURTS REAL ESTATE. The DFL House Tax Plan raises revenue by cutting a number of income tax deductions. Of significant concern to Minnesota REALTORS® and homeowners, the DFL House plan eliminates two major real estate tax deductions: the Mortgage Interest Deduction and Real Estate Property Taxes. The bill also eliminates provisions of the Relative Homestead Tax.

Elimination of Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID)– a feature of the tax code since 1933, the MID has helped numerous generations achieve the American Dream of owning a home. A significant public policy objective for decades, homeownership stabilizes families, neighborhoods and communities. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the MID for homeowners and replaces it with a “housing credit” for qualified homeowners. The maximum credit is $420, which is equal to 7 percent (7%) of up to $6,000 of mortgage interest paid during the taxable year. However, no credit is applied to the first $4,000 of interest paid. Therefore, a homeowner must pay at least $10,000 in MID in order to receive the full $420 credit. As an example, if a homeowner has mortgage interest of $8,000 in the tax year, the credit equals $280. ($8,000 – $4,000 = $4,000 x 7% = $280).

This provision hurts young families disproportionately because mortgage debt loads are highest when people are establishing their households. This provision changes the financial plans numerous families have made when purchasing a home and increases the financial difficulties many are facing during this economic downturn. At a time when housing is finally getting a financial foothold why eliminate a tax provision that has helped millions of families achieve the “American Dream?”

Real Estate Property Tax Deductibility –This public policy provision has been included in the tax code since 1933 and allows taxpayers to deduct property taxes paid from their income. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the deductibility of real estate property taxes at a time when local property taxes continue to increase faster than Minnesotan’s income.

Relative Homestead – If you own identical houses, with identical values, with identical tax rates you would assume you would pay identical taxes – Right? Not if the House DFL Tax Bill becomes law. In a provision of the bill, authored by a DFL legislator, families that provide housing to other family members will pay more taxes on the second home. The goal of the provision, as stated by the legislator, is to stop parents from buying homes for their college students. MNAR pointed out that this is a small piece of the overall program and instead the proposal will be hurting families trying to assist other family members who may have gone through job loss, divorce or other financial difficulties. Isn’t it better to have families provide for families instead of government?

These provisions have been designed according to the author to make the Minnesota tax system more progressive and to raise revenue to fill the state’s pending budget shortfall. Because real estate related public policy provisions of the tax code benefit the upper 50% of tax payers – Top 50% begins at $40,061 according to the Tax Incidence Study (http://www.taxes.state.mn.us/legal_policy/other_supporting_content/2009_tax_incidence_study_links.pdf ). At a time when the housing market is beginning to stabilize, this House DFL sponsored proposal sends the wrong message to struggling Minnesota households.

The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® has a long and respected position that government, at all levels, needs to “Live Within Your Means.” Just like families sitting around the kitchen table trying to make ends, Minnesota’s legislative body should not be adding to the long-term financial burden of Minnesota homeowners. The House DFL Tax Bill penalizes families who have invested in the American Dream and provide for the backbone for stable communities.

ACTION REQUEST: To fight this unbelievable proposal we are asking that you take three steps:

  1. Please contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about this proposal. Please find attached a list with legislator contact information or use this link: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/Districtfinder.asp
  2. Forward this email to your clients, customers and friends. Let them know what is being proposed and give them the web address above to review the bill.
  3. Go the extra mile and CALL your legislator about this tax bill. Let him/her know your concerns and how it will impact your clients, your family and your business. Let your Representative know that it is time for our elected officials to “LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS” by prioritizing spending and not raising taxes.
    You can access the bill summary (48 pages) at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/86/HF2323.html

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