Write-Offs Uncle Sam Wishes You’d Forget
As a homeowner, you can benefit from tax breaks that can shave thousands of dollars off from your IRS bill each year, which could mean a higher refund check. Since it’s that time of year we are all gathering our documents and working on getting our taxes in asap, I wanted to remind you about what owning a home can do to help your tax situation.
And if you currently rent, becoming a homeowner means you’ll get some tax benefits that could make you enjoy filing your tax return.
Read over the list below to see what could pertain to your situation. There are other deductions you might be able to take that I haven’t listed here, so be sure to always consult with your tax advisor. This isn’t tax advice, just a reminder of what to talk to your accountant about!
Mortgage interest. If your home was purchased before Dec. 16, 2017, you can deduct the mortgage interest paid on your first $1 million in mortgage debt. For mortgages taken out since that date, you can deduct the interest. You’ll want to talk with your accountant about whether it’s better to deduct the mortgage interest or take the standard deduction instead. If you decide to deduct the mortgage interest, you’ll need to itemize your income taxes in order to claim this. Don’t just fill out the 1040-EZ without doing the math first to see whether itemizing or the standard deduction will result in the lowest tax bill – or highest refund – for you.
• Property taxes. Property taxes on real estate are fully deductible. When you buy a home, check the settlement sheet to see if you reimbursed the seller for property taxes if they prepaid for a period you actually owned the home. If so, include that amount in your property tax deduction.
• Credit for green improvements. Not a tax break but a credit. It allows homeowners to take $ off their federal income tax for making certain improvements that increase the energy efficiency of their homes, such as water heaters, furnace, boiler, heat pump, windows or roofing.
• Investment Property/Rental Property. The cost of maintaining and marketing a rental property can be deducted from the income the property generates, without regard to the owner’s tax status. These expenses include mortgage interest payments, insurance, utilities, maintenance, repairs, advertising costs and management fees, as well as the non-cash cost of depreciation.
• Home office. You can deduct the costs of a home office that you use exclusively as your principal place of business. This one is notorious for causing audits, so if you are going to claim this one, be sure to talk with your accountant about your situation and whether you qualify.
Tax-free rental income. If you rent out your own home for 14 or fewer days during the year, the rental income is tax-free.
Capital Gains: Remember, if you sold your principal residence, that you may not have to pay tax on the gain. The IRS typically allows you to exclude up to $250,000 of capital gains on real estate if you’re single and $500,000 of capital gains on real estate if you’re married and filing jointly. If you are selling an investment property, that’s where it gets a little more complicated, but you could do a 1031 exchange to avoid paying capital gains on that sale as well.
So, there you have it—the basics of tax benefits for being a homeowner. There are others, so be sure to talk to your accountant. At the very least, take advantage of these.
And, if you don’t have an accountant and want to use one this year, I have several I can recommend. Just reach out to me and I’ll get you in touch.
The only question now is, how are you going to spend/save/invest that big refund check? I’d love to know!