Mortgage Brokers Get Tax Break, Everyone Else Gets Hurt

In this time of budget crisis, we need to ask: do mortgage brokers need million dollar breaks? The state tax code contains hundreds of giveaways to special interests that drain taxpayer money just as we’re considering huge tuition hikes and the elimination of health care and other important programs. Since 1997, mortgage brokers have received a B&O tax exemption for money received from trust accounts.

In the last four years, this tax break has cost the public $4.8 million, and it benefits only mortgage brokers.

What’s at stake? How else could we spend $4.8 million?

Ashley Molenda works with some of the most vulnerable members of our community at DESC, an emergency service center in downtown Seattle. Ashley’s program makes one-on-one contact with mentally ill people living on the streets—people in dire need of help—with counseling, housing, and maintaining access to medication and other services. The program saves lives; it also saves money by helping clients remain self-sufficient and avoid hospitalization or needless arrests. “If we don’t reach these people to provide help, nobody else will,” says Ashley. “Without effective treatment, they will just bounce back and forth from emergency rooms, to jail, to the street. It’s a cycle that cuts lives short. It also costs the public more in the long run.”

There should be no sacred cows when it comes to balancing the budget, not for mortgage brokers or anyone else. There is simply too much at stake.

(Also posted to Families for a Fair Economy)