Write-Offs Uncle Sam Wishes You’d Forget
Do taxes make your head hurt like they do mine? I’m far from an expert but I do have access to accountants who are good as gold. One thing to keep in mind is as a homeowner, you can benefit from tax breaks that can shave thousands of dollars off from your IRS bill each year If you’re reading between the lines that means a higher refund check. Ummm… YES PLEASE. Since it’s that time of year we are all gathering our documents and working on getting out 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 actually like filing your tax return. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it is an improvement for sure.
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 on the first $750,000. You’ll want to talk with your accountant about whether it’s better to deduct the mortgage interest or taking the standard deduction instead. The standard deduction is currently $12,400 for single filers and $24,800 for married taxpayers filing jointly. 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 all real estate are fully deductible. When you buy a home, check the settlement sheet to see if you reimbursed the seller for property taxes he or she 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 up to $500 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, but 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.
- Capitol Gains: Remember, if you sold your principle 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 capitol gains on that sale as well. If learning more about that interests you, reach out to me and we can talk more and I can also recommend a 1031 expert who can answer all your questions about this program.
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 that big refund check? I’d love to know!
I'm Robin and I love living in Utah. I love helping first time home buyers make their first home more affordable and I love helping sellers looking to move up to their forever home in and around Silicon Slopes.
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