When you buy a new home, there’s been a cherry on top for years to help seal the deal.

That incentive has been the mortgage interest deduction, where homeowners get to write off the interest they pay on their homes.

The argument is it helps incentivize homeownership and helps millions of Americans achieve the dream of buying a home for their families.

But following discussion at the Republican National Convention, there is concern that the deduction could go away. It’s a legitimate concern, if that really is the case.

If you eliminate the deduction entirely, all of a sudden millions of people will see their tax bills go up by potentially thousands of dollars or more.

It’s thousands that people clearly cannot afford, based on the number of people filing foreclosures and unable to pay property taxes.

Luckily, even though Republicans didn’t say in their platform they would protect the deduction at all cost, they said, “We strongly support tax reform; in the event we do not achieve this, we must preserve the mortgage interest deduction.”

In that case, with a simpler tax code, even though homeowners wouldn’t get a big bump in their checking account after tax day, it would mean more money in their paychecks throughout the year, because less money would come out initially.

As long as the bottom line ends up the same for homeowners, that is OK. It’s vital, that in the end, homeowners’ taxes — especially those for the middle class — should come out the same with or without the deduction. If that is not possible, then keep the deduction.

— The Journal Times, Racine, Wis., Sept. 17

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