As you get ready to do your taxes, there are always myriad of changes that can make it a challenge, particularly for the first-time homebuyer. The rules are always changing and you must stay informed to ensure that you are on top of the annual litany of tax changes.
Homeownership offers multiple home tax deductions, tax credits and other breaks that aren’t available to those who rent.
There are a number of potential tax breaks that are available to homeowners, and according to Lisa Greene-Lewis, the range of these breaks is wide.
“Getting enough qualified expenses can top the standard deduction and push you over into itemizing, and allow you to deduct so many other expenses you wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” she said.
The government provides a mortgage interest credit for first-time homebuyers to claim a tax break for the mortgage interest they paid. Unlike the mortgage interest deduction — which reduces your taxable income — this mortgage interest credit directly counts against your tax bill, lowering what you owe.
To be eligible, a state or local government must have issued you a Mortgage Credit Certificate.
First-time home buyers also can deduct what they pay in points to get their mortgage. To claim this deduction, the return must be itemized and a settlement disclosure statement must specifically denote the fees as points.
Points on refinance loans and home equity loans are also deductible but must be spread over the life of the loan instead of all in one year’s return, so those are less lucrative but can still ad up.
Yvette Best, controller and senior tax accountant at Best Services Unlimited, a tax preparation company based in Fayetteville, Ga., said this is an overlooked deduction.
“Buying points to lower the interest rate on your mortgage loan is one of the best tax breaks available right now,” she told GoBankringrates.com.
You can also deduct what you pay in points to obtain the mortgage loan in the first place.
Homebuyers also can pull funds from your IRA to help with a down payment and closing costs. You can take up to $10,000 from your IRA without penalty to buy a home, although you’ll still need to pay taxes on the money.
Greene-Lewis notes that first-time homebuyers who do this are not subjected to the 10 percent penalty which is typically applied to such withdrawals prior to the age of 59½.
“This incentive applies to current homeowners as well because you’re eligible for first-time buyer status if you haven’t owned a home in two years,” she added.
If you itemize deductions on Schedule A you also can deduct real estate taxes paid on your primary residence. You also can deduct property taxes paid during the year for which you are filing. If the home was purchased mid-year, you can claim taxes paid form the sale date. Deducting this big local tax bill can save you a lot on your federal return.
Did you use a home equity loan or other loan for financial improvements? This, too, may qualify for a tax break. It can qualify for the same mortgage interest deductions as your main mortgage.
The interest can be fully deductible up to $100,000, according to the IRS. Similarly, it’s also possible to deduct the interest you pay on a home equity line of credit (HELOC) in most circumstances.
At the end of 2016, the clock runs out on several federal tax credits for homeowners who made energy upgrades during the year: The non-business energy property tax credit and the residential energy property tax credit.
You can still claim these credits if you made qualifying improvements to your home during the 2016 tax year. However, you won’t qualify for the credit if you write the check before the clock runs out and the contractor does the actual work in 2017.
The incentives include decreased energy costs and tax credits from federal, state and local governments. EnergyStar.gov offers examples of improvements and equipment included in the federal tax credit group.
Alexis Powers, communications specialist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, noted that another tax credit is being phased out slowly.
“The tax credit for home solar PV and water heating systems doesn’t expire for another five years, but the percentage you can claim gradually drops off after 2019,” she said. “Now is the time to start planning your solar energy system.”
We are not licensed accountants or tax professionals. Always consult you own tax professional to advise you on your own specific financial circumstances.