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Those Who Own vs. Those Who Rent

June 27, 2005

Re "Betting Against the House," Commentary, June 22: Like Andres Martinez, I confess that I am also a renter. And like Martinez, I am disgusted by the way our tax laws are designed to enrich homeowners at renters' expense.

In addition to the inherent unfairness of the mortgage-interest deduction, you can add Proposition 13's cap on property taxes and the $500,000 capital gains exemption that a married couple receives when they sell their home. These extremely regressive tax laws enable homeowners to accumulate tax-free wealth through passive land ownership.

This inequitable arrangement does not stimulate our economy, but rather it promotes a growing economic divide between those who own and those who rent.

Robert Shannon

South Pasadena


It is rare we get treated to a display of self-undermining thinking as clearly manifested as in Martinez's column complaining of the upward trend in house prices.

He displays a well-informed understanding of the cause for the trend in these prices, particularly attributing it to favorable tax treatment of those who buy homes.

This favorable tax treatment has existed for 50-odd years, so most people with Martinez's insight apply this knowledge and understanding by buying a home and getting these tax advantages. Not so Martinez: Instead of buying a home as soon as he is able to, he decides to pay rent, lose out on all these advantages and complain about tax policies that have been in place since before he was born.

Did he just find out about these advantages? Has he been in a mental fog up to now? If so, whose fault is that?

Larry Selk

Los Angeles

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