What are the tax benefits of owning a home? Homeowners might be wondering this right around now as they prepare to file their taxes. Especially since the new Tax Cuts and Job Acts (the most substantial overhaul to the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years) went into effect on January 1st, 2018. You might even be wondering how the new plan affects the tax perks of homeownership.
Well, look no further than this complete guide to all the tax benefits of owning a home.
In the past, one of the most lucrative tax breaks for homeowners was the deduction of mortgage interest. The new tax code didn’t eliminate the deduction, but it did change substantially. The new tax bill allows homeowners with a mortgage that went into effect before Dec. 15, 2017, to continue to deduct interest on loans up to $1 million. However, for mortgages after Dec.15, 2017, the tax reform only allows the homeowner to deduct the interest on the first $750,000.
The ability to deduct the interest on a mortgage continues to be a big benefit of owning a home. Plus, the more recent your mortgage, the greater your tax savings.
Previously, property taxes in their entirety had always been deductible. However, now this deduction is capped at $10,000 for those married filing jointly no matter how high the taxes are.
Taxpayers can still take one $10,000 deduction just note that this year, property taxes are on the list of all your deductions that must add up to more than the standard deduction ($24,000 for a married couple) to be worth your while. Also, remember that if you have a mortgage, your taxes are built into your monthly payment.
Private Mortgage Insurance
If you put less than 20% down on a home, odds are you’re paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which costs from 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan. Good news! The new tax bill extended the ability to deduct the interest on this insurance, a deduction that was set to expire. The PMI interest deduction is also an itemized deduction. However, if you can take it, it might help push you over the $24,000 standard deduction.
Energy Efficiency Upgrades
The Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit was a tax incentive for installing alternative energy upgrades in a home. Most of these tax credits expired after December 2016. However, two credits are still around. The credits for solar electric and solar heating equipment are available through Dec. 31, 2021.
You can still save a good bit of money on your solar energy. Plus, this is a credit, so no worrying about itemizing.
A Home Office
In 2017, if you worked from home at all, your office space and expenses could be deducted. now this deduction is gone completely for employees who have an office to go to but work from home occasionally.
Good news for all self-employed people whose home office is the main place they work, you can still take a $5-per square-foot deduction for up to 300 square feet of office space, which amounts to a maximum deduction of $1,500. Just understand that there are strict rules on what constitutes a dedicated, fully deductible home office space.
Home Improvements to Age in Place
For this filing season, home improvements will need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. So if you make $60,000, this deduction kicks in only on money spent over $4,500. The cost of these improvements can result in a nice tax break for many older homeowners who plan to age in place and add renovations such as wheelchair ramps or grab bars in slippery bathrooms. Deductible improvements might also include widening doorways, lowering cabinets or electrical fixtures, and adding stair lifts. However, you will need a letter from your doctor to prove these changes were medically necessary.
Interest on a Home Equity Line of Credit
In the past, people used these loans to do all sorts of things: pay for college, throw a wedding, or make improvements to their home. And they could legally deduct the interest. Not anymore, even if you took out the loan before the new tax plan.
Now if you have a home equity line of credit or HELOC, the interest you pay on that loan is deductible only if that loan is used specifically to buy, build, or improve a property, according to the IRS.
You’ll still save cash if your home’s crying out for a kitchen overhaul or half bath. You can still deduct only up to $750,000 cap, and this is for the amount you pay in interest on your HELOC and mortgage combined.