Sunday, February 10, 2013

Graphic in Big O Story on Tax Breaks Omits MID and Property Tax Use by Highest Income Filers.

Last week the Big O published a story about efforts to pare state tax breaks. I appreciated the story, including a narrative discussion about the savings that would occur if the mortgage interest deduction was scaled back. 

However, the story contained a graphic showing tax breaks that primarily benefited the highest income bracket and neither the costs of MID or property tax deductions were included.  

I dug out data from the Oregon Tax Expenditure report and found out that the combined cost of the MID and property tax deductions :
  1. Was 4X the combined cost of all other deductions included in the graphic.
  2. Went disproportionately (61%) to the top 20% of Oregon tax full time filers. 

My Excel calculations, using 2009 data for MID and property taxes, and 2010 data from the Oregonian table, are HERE and in the embed below:  

While I think the cost multiple of 4 X is likely reduced closer to 3 X if 2010 estimates of MID and property tax costs were used, I consider the absence of the MID and property tax cost to be a serious omission from an otherwise good Big O story.  

I have communicated my concerns to the reporter with a suggested update to include the information that I provided and to 2010 MID and property tax data.

If I were big on conspiratorial theory (I'm not), I might think the absence of the MID and property tax from the graphic was linked to an Oregonian editorial after the story was published that called for no change in the MID. 

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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