Realtors Rally Against Governor's Tax Plan

Realtor Catherine Schramm replaces a listing line number atop a sign after changing the status to pending in front of a home in Florence, Ky., Tuesday, July 8, 2008. A measurement of pending home sales fell to its third-lowest reading on record in May as the housing market's recovery continued to prove elusive. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
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Topeka, KS (WIBW) -- Realtors from across Kansas rallied at the Statehouse Wednesday against the governor's tax plan.

The Kansas Association of Realtors says the plan to eliminate the mortgage interest and property tax deductions will make it harder for families to own their homes. Members lobbied for policies they say will protect homebuyers rights.

In his budget proposal for fiscal year 20-14, Governor Sam Brownback says the mortgage interest deduction is primarily used by upper income taxpayers. But realtors say it benefits more than just the wealthy.

"There's 92 percent of the homeowners in Kansas right now that take advantage of this deduction with an income under $200,000, said Becky Burghart, a member of the Topeka Area Association of Realtors. "Under $100,000, it's about 67 percent so this speaks right to the middle class."

More than 250 realtors were at the statehouse rallying against the governor's plan to eliminate the mortgage interest and property tax deductions, saying it would cause the average Kansas family to see a tax increase between $500-$600 a year.

"It is a huge incentive on your tax bill and we think it's a huge incentive to purchase a home," said Luke Bell, vice president of governmental affairs for the Kansas Association of Realtors.

While Bell says the tax proposal has potential homebuyers second guessing their decision, realtors say that wave of apprehension hasn't hit topeka yet.

"I think their listening and their watching and their concerned," said Linda Briden, an executive officer at the Topeka Area Association of Realtors.

Ultimately, the governor wants to phase out income taxes in Kansas over the next four years. Realtors say eliminating the deductions should follow the same pattern.

"If we are phasing out tax rates over time," said Bell. "Then it only makes sense to phase out all credits and deductions over time as well."

The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee announced Tuesday that it supports the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction. However, it backs the continuation of the property tax deduction.