Middle-class America enjoys some of the same tax breaks as the wealthy on things like the mortgage interest on home loans, capital gains on retirement investments and donations made to charity — but the smaller your estate, the less these breaks benefit you. Take the mortgage interest deduction, for example, which is designed to encourage home ownership. Sure, this tax break benefits millions of middle-class homeowners, as well as the wealthy. But does it provide a compelling financial incentive to own rather than rent? Not really. Mortgage interest deductions for households with incomes between $40,000 and $75,000 average just $523, substantially less than the average write-off of $5,459 enjoyed by households with incomes of $250,000 or more.

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