If you ever wondered whether getting involved in political activities is worth your time, consider the impact your real estate colleagues Shirley Wiseman and April Newland, among others, have just had on an issue that impacts more than 70 million home owners and the millions of households hoping to buy a home in the coming years.
These two real estate professionals, along with others in real estate who are serving as delegates to the Republican National Convention this year, pushed through language in their party’s platform that explicitly calls for protecting the mortgage interest deduction—this in a year when platform writers are underscoring support for comprehensive tax reform.
The Republican platform four years ago also referenced MID, but it was in the context of a broader set of principles on housing. “Because affordable housing is in the national interest, any simplified tax system should continue to encourage homeownership, recognizing the tremendous social value that the home mortgage interest deduction has had for decades,” the platform said.
But this year—in fact, just yesterday—Wiseman, Newland, and others won approval for language that explicitly puts Republicans on record pledging protection of MID, although it first gives a nod to the party’s priority to seek comprehensive tax reform. If that doesn’t pass, protecting MID is paramount.
“I read the platform and there was nothing in it about the mortgage interest deduction, so I offered that as an amendment,” says Wiseman, president of the McVay Group in Lexington, Ky., and a member of the government affairs committee of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS®. Wiseman is also a past president of the National Association of Home Builders and was an FHA official in the mid-1980s.
The language passed easily after she rewrote her original version to reflect the priority the committee wanted to put on comprehensive tax reform. “I opened my statement with the fact that I submitted this amendment on behalf of the 70 million home owners who depend on the mortgage interest deduction to make it comfortable for them to make their payments,” she says. “This deduction is used by middle America. It came to a voice vote and it wasn’t even close. We won. I think it was one of the most important things to come out of the platform, because it is very significant. It’s very strong language and I am absolutely thrilled.”
April Newland, owner of Newland Real Estate in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, seconded the motion on Wiseman’s amendment and joined other delegates to help push it to passage. Newland has been a delegate to the Republican convention for decades.
Every single provision in the tax code is fair game as lawmakers next year look at how to put the federal government onto a path to eventual balance. Not even a provision as widely popular on a bipartisan basis as the deduction for mortgage interest can be taken for granted. By getting their party’s explicit endorsement to protect MID, Wiseman, Newland, and their colleagues have notched an achievement that matters to every home owner and buyer. “We need the message out that all politics is local,” says Wiseman. “Get involved at home, then you can pursue state and national. It’s so important.”