Mortgage deduction is popular, but few claim it

Gregory Korte, USA Today

Designed to boost homeownership, the mortgage interest deduction is one of the most popular provisions of the tax code. But Internal Revenue Service data show that only a quarter of tax filers claim it.

The use of the deduction varies widely from region to region, ranging from a high of 37% of taxpayers in Maryland to a low of 15% in North Dakota and West Virginia, according to a USA TODAY analysis of IRS data.

As Congress and President Obama look for a deal to avert self-imposed austerity measures known as the “fiscal cliff,” mortgage interest deductions are part of a menu of policy changes that could close the gap between what the government spends and what it takes in. That’s in part because the mortgage deduction comes at a significant price tag to the federal treasury: $108 billion a year.

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