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Own a home with a mortgage whose payment is less than what the house would rent for. The government could consider this difference to be taxable income. Even worse is the case where the house is owned free and clear. Heard this idea floated on a talk show this morning.

It would violate the constitution. The federal government can't tax assets, but it can tax transactions (egs. earned income, sales, inheritance, dividends). Not paying rent is not a transaction, so the proposed tax would be an ad valorum tax on assets, which is constitutionally reserved for the states.
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