My article at Yahoo: Cutting Real Estate Down To Size on their Budget Site.
(Reproduced in full)
In an economy that is seeing ridiculous levels of increase in real estate prices, it is strange that we continue to give it sops, sometimes to an extreme. Let me list the ways real estate is "preferred" as a mode of investment.
First, you are allowed an income tax deduction of Rs. 150,000 on the interest paid for the home you live in. This, you think, is justified; you are also allowed a deduction (without limit) on any education loan. But it doesn't apply to any other loan you ever take - car loans, personal loans, a loan to buy that fridge that ensures your food doesn't rot and so on. I would recommend that either all interest paid on a loan for ANY durable - like cars or fridges - be tax free. After all, the government charges the bank income tax on that money.
Or, they must remove the special exemption for housing loan interest completely. Education loan exemptions are far less kind; they should stay, for the only reason that education is far more useful. A house is only as useful as a car nowadays.
Second, if you buy a second house, you're allowed to deduct an unlimited amount of interest paid on the loan. Again, just because no other item on your personal balance sheet is allowed that kind of deduction, I say remove it for housing, or let everything else in. How can you incentivize SECOND houses, for goodness sake!