INSIGHT-Cuts to homeowner tax breaks could cost Republicans in 2018...

asked 2018-02-12 03:22:13 -0600

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shio kudaBy Sharon Bernstein and Howard Schneider SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec 6 (Reuters) - Laura Russo is just the kind of voter the Republicans need, but the party's proposed tax overhaul, which includes limits on the deductions for mortgage Ramalan Shio interest, state taxes and property taxes, is pushing her away. "I would be dramatically affected," she said. An airline pilot and single mother of two, she says that like many in her affluent Loudoun County, Virginia, neighborhood she stretched to buy her home.

She fears it will become harder to sell that house or pay her other tax bills if President Donald Trump signs the plan into law. Russo, 52, said she had voted for the Republican in every presidential race since 1992 until last year when she picked Hillary Clinton. She still voted for Barbara Comstock, the Republican who represents her district in Congress. "I will not do that again," she said. "The tax bill is the straw that broke the camel's back.

Russo is one of thousands of homeowners in Republican-leaning areas who could be hit by the elimination or reduction of tax breaks for homeowners, a Reuters analysis of federal mortgage and tax data shows, potentially opening those districts to a Democratic challenge in the November 2018 mid-term elections. The plans are expected to affect mainly the Democratic-leaning "blue states" such as California, New Jersey and New York where homes are expensive, mortgages are huge and state and local taxes tend to be high.

But while these blue states will be hardest hit, county level data also shows there is a significant number of Republican enclaves in districts expected to be hotly contested in next year's polls that will feel the pain. Republican leaning pockets in blue or swing states, such as Orange County, California, or Loudoun County, Virginia, tend to have high property values - and thus the higher mortgages. Many of these areas also tend to have higher state and local income taxes.

(Graphic: website SWING DISTRICTS Larry Sabato, director of the non-partisan Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, estimates that there are 16 counties where 2018 races will be toss-ups between Republican incumbents and Democratic challengers. Reuters data shows that almost half of those counties have an above-average share of new mortgages worth more than $500,000, which is a proposed cap for tax deductions.

The results are similar for districts selected as 50-50 ones by The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan newsletter that analyzes U.S. elections. Among those on Cook's list is a district in Harris County in the deep-red state of Texas. Even though the state has no income tax, thousands of residents of the district, which includes Houston, deduct taxes owed in other states because of work or business done there, and property taxes - the nation's sixth-highest. Democrats need 24 more seats to win lower house majority from the Republicans, who now control the White House and both houses of Congress.

Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, said in a fundraising note Democrats were rushing out "rapid-response ads" targeting swing voters to capitalize on the concerns, while Kevin Brady, Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said on CNBC on Tuesday his party's leadership was working on ways to mollify Republicans in blue states.

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