Brown looks to extend tax break for homeowners

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Hattie Wilkins owns her home.

She was at risk of losing it when the housing market went south, but her bank offered her a life preserver and forgave part of her mortgage. She thought she was in the clear until a federal tax break expired and now she is expected to pay on her debt.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was in Youngstown Friday announcing plans to extend the tax break for struggling homeowners such as Wilkins.

Brown was joined by Wilkins at Catholic Charities on Belmont Avenue, where the two addressed concerns and what they hope is a solution for other homeowners facing similar situations as Wilkins.

“I don’t have that kind of money. Now, I’m in the same bind as I was before, facing the possibility of getting put out of my house for back taxes because I don’t have the tax money,” said Wilkins.

Brown is sponsoring a bill that would extend the tax break through 2014 in the hope that the housing market will improve.

According to Thomas Williams, former president of the Ohio Association of Realtors, the housing market is on the mend but eliminating this tax break could send homeowners back to square one.

About 20 percent of the mortgages in the Valley are under water, meaning people owe more than what their house is worth. Thomas would actually like to see the tax break extended for three more years.

“I don’t anticipate this to be a permanent type of thing because we all are seeing values of homes starting to increase now,” said Williams. “People are starting to realize appreciations that they lost.”

Brown said the extension got bi-partisan support in the past and hopes to get the bill through as soon as possible.

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