Home Ownership — New Tax Laws
Navigating our way through the new tax laws concerning home ownership. What’s deductible: closing costs, mortgage interest, property taxes? Let’s take a closer look and break down some of the basics.
To itemize or not to itemize, that’s the question.
Basically, you’ll want to itemize if you have deductions totaling more than the standard deduction, which is $12,000 for single people and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Every taxpayer gets this deduction, homeowner or not. And most people take it because their actual itemized deductions are less than the standard amount. To decide, you need to know what’s tax deductible when buying or owning a home. Here’s a list of possible deductions:
Deductible Closing Costs – One Time Home Purchase
– Real estate taxes charged to you when you closed
– Mortgage interest paid when you settled
– Some loan origination fees (a.k.a. points) applicable to a mortgage of $750,000 or less
Remember you will only want to itemize them if all your deductions above total more than the standard deduction. $12,000 for single people and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Non-deductible Closing Costs
– Real estate commissions
– Home inspections
– Attorney fees
– Title fees
– Transfer taxes
– Mortgage Refinance Fees
Mortgage interest and property taxes are annual expenses of owning a home that may or may not be deductible.
Yearly, you can write off the interest you pay on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. Most homeowners don’t have mortgages large enough to hit the cap, says Evan Liddiard, CPA, director of federal tax policy for the National Association of REALTORS®. But people who live in pricey places like San Francisco and Manhattan, or homeowners anywhere with hefty mortgages, will likely maximize the mortgage interest deduction. Note: The $750,000 cap affects loans taken out after Dec. 17, 2017. If you have a loan older than that and you itemize, you can keep deducting your mortgage interest debt up to $1 million. But if you re-fi that loan, you can only deduct the interest on the amount up to the balance on the day you refinanced – you can’t take extra cash and deduct the interest on the excess.
Home Equity Loan Interest
You can deduct the interest on a home equity loan or a second mortgage. But — and this is a big but — only if you use the proceeds to substantially improve your house, and only if the loan, combined with your first mortgage, doesn’t add up to more than the magic number of $750,000 (or $1 million if the loans were existing as of Dec. 15, 2017). If you use a home equity loan to pay medical bills, go to Paris, or for anything but home improvement, you can’t write off the interest on your taxes.
State and Local Taxes
You can deduct state and local taxes you paid, including property, sales, and income taxes, up to $10,000. That’s a low cap for people who live in places where state and local taxes are high.
Loss From a Disaster
You can write off the cost of damage to your home if it’s caused by an event in a federally declared disaster zone, like areas in Florida after Hurricane Michael or Shasta County, CA, after a rash of wildfires. This means standard-variety disasters like a busted water pipe while you’re on vacation or a accidental home fire aren’t deductible.
This deduction is also only for some. You can deduct moving expenses if you’re an active member of the armed forces moving to a new station. And by the way, no matter who you are, if your employer pays your moving expenses, you’ll have to pay taxes on the reimbursement. “This will be a real hardship to many because it’s non-cash income,” says Liddiard.
This is a deduction you don’t have to itemize. You can take it on top of the standard deduction, but only if you’re self-employed. If you are an employee and your boss lets you telecommute a day or two a week, you can’t write off home office expenses. You claim it on Schedule C.
Anyone paying a mortgage and a student loan payment will be happy to hear that the interest on your education loan is tax-deductible on top of the standard deduction (no need to itemize). And you can deduct as much as $2,500 in interest per year, depending on your modified adjusted gross income.
Ways to Increase Your Eligible Deductions
There are some other itemize-able costs not related to being a homeowner that could bump you up over the standard deduction. This might allow you to write off your mortgage interest. Charitable contributions and some medical expenses are itemize-able, although medical expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. So if you’ve have had a hospital stay or are generous, you could be in itemized-deduction land. Also, if you’re a single homeowner, it could be easier for you to exceed the standard deduction. The itemized deductions on your house will probably more quickly break the $12,000 standard deduction threshold than a couple’s similar house will break their $24,000 threshold.
Buying or owning a home is the largest purchase most people will ever make. Though each homeowner’s tax benefits will vary depending on a number of factors, building equity is the greatest benefit to all. Equity is the reason home ownership is preferred to renting, besides the fact you can paint walls and get a dog. When it comes time to sell you’ll likely make money off of your initial investment, so home ownership has many benefits beyond tax time. No need to stress about the numbers let us figure them out for you. Call us today! (256) 489-1478 or schedule an appointment now.
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