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WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., told Realtors here today that the mortgage interest deduction must remain intact, even though the U.S. tax system "should be made flatter, fairer and simpler."

Dole, the likely 1996 Republican presidential nominee, addressed the National Association of Realtors' Midyear Business Meetings and Technology Fair. Nearly 7,000 Realtors and guests are attending the April 24-30 conference.

"I know the importance of home ownership to the American family ... it gives them a piece of America, a piece of the action," Dole said. "We will keep the mortgage interest deduction, because it helps people become and stay home owners. Don't worry about it. The mortgage interest deduction will remain in a Dole administration."

Realtors applauded wildly to Dole's support for maintaining home ownership incentives in the U.S. tax code, following their association's 16-month campaign to fight against flat tax proposals, that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction.

A 1995 study conducted for NAR by the economic consulting firm of DRI/McGraw Hill showed that a flat tax eliminating this deduction would cause home values to fall an average of 15 percent nationwide, costing American home owners $1.7 trillion in lost equity.

"This would be too costly, too devastating to home owners and to this country's economy," NAR President Art Godi said. "Dole clearly understands the importance of keeping the mortgage interest deduction, and today he proved once again that he is a champion for American home owners and those who would like to be home owners."

The senior senator from Kansas also drew Realtor applause at his comments on improving the treatment of capital gains in the tax code. "We need to reduce or eliminate the capital gains tax rate to create more jobs and opportunities," Dole said.

Since the 1986 Tax Reform Act, NAR has favored restoring a lower tax rate on long-term capital gains as compared to ordinary income. The association believes that lowering the current capital gains rate would encourage real estate investment and stimulate the economy.

With regard to another Realtor issue, private property rights, Dole said: "They are so precious they are protected by the U.S. Constitution ... owners should be compensated when the value of their property is reduced or diminished."

In the current session of Congress, Dole introduced S. 605, an NAR-supported bill that addresses several private property rights measures, including compensation for government "takings" of property.

Another piece of Realtor-supported legislation recently introduced by Dole, on health insurance tax deductions for the self-employed, passed the Senate last week by a 100-0 vote.

Dole's amendment to S. 1028 would increase the deductibility for health insurance costs for the unemployed to 80 percent in the year 2006. Current law only allows a 30 percent deduction. The Senate version goes beyond the House-passed bill that calls for increasing the deduction to 50 percent in the year 2003.

"We are continuing to push for 100-percent deductibility, which would allow Realtors to deduct all of their health insurance costs, and Dole's amendment to the Senate bill makes a significant step in that direction," Godi said.

The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest professional association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.

News releases issued from the National Association of Realtors may be retrieved by calling the PR Newswire fax-on-demand service at 1-800-758-5804, ext. 601633. NAR releases are also posted on the Internet at
 -0- 4/29/96

/CONTACT: Liz Johnson, 202-383-1043 or Trisha Morris, 202-383-1016, both of the National Association of Realtors/

CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO

DC-IA -- DCM038 -- 9287 04/29/96 13:20 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 29, 1996

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