4 ways to save serious tax dollars.
If you bought a home recently, congratulations!
You may be able to start building equity, paint your walls any color you like, and potentially save on your tax return, too. In fact, you may be able to trim a nice chunk from your federal income tax bill the year you buy a home (and beyond) provided you itemize deductions on your federal return1.
You’ll want to review your situation with a professional tax advisor, but here are 4 ways home ownership may benefit you at tax time if you itemize your federal income tax deductions:
1. Mortgage interest: You can typically deduct the entire interest portion of your monthly mortgage payment, according to the IRS, by itemizing your deductions on a Schedule A (Form 1040).
Exceptions: According to the IRS, your total mortgage balance needs to be less than $1.1 million (or $550,000, if you’re married and filing separately). For the most part, you must have taken your mortgage out to build, buy or improve your home to qualify. However, up to $100,000 of home equity debt may be treated as mortgage debt, even if you did not take out the debt to build, buy or improve your home. For mortgages exceeding $1.1 million, only a part of your mortgage interest may be deductible, but you could still realize tax savings.
Potential tax savings: The mortgage interest deduction may be the largest individual deduction, according to the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, which found it saved homeowners $71 billion in 2013. (The amount you can deduct will depend on what you pay each month.)
2. Real estate taxes: The IRS lets you deduct annual real estate taxes from state and local governments, so long as they’ve been assessed in the same way as all other properties in your community. If you own a second home, you may also be able to deduct property taxes on that residence.
Exceptions: If you rent your home out for more than 14 days a year, the IRS considers only a portion of your property taxes to be a deductible expense, based on how often you used the home and how much time renters lived there.
Potential tax savings: The average American household spends $2,127 on property taxes each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Check the average in your state.
Related: Feeling taxed to the max?
3. Mortgage insurance premiums: If you bought a home and put less than 20 percent down, chances are you may have had to pay private mortgage insurance — which homeowners may be able to deduct on their taxes if the home was purchased after Dec. 31, 2006, according to the National Association of Realtors® .
Exceptions: If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000 ($50,000 if your filing status is married filing separately), the mortgage insurance premium amount that’s deductible is reduced. You’ll need to itemize your deductions and use the IRS’ Schedule A (Form 1040) to figure the amount you can deduct. If your adjusted gross income is more than $109,000 ($54,500 if married filing separately), you won’t be able to deduct your premiums. You may also have to allocate your mortgage insurance premium, which will reduce your deduction, if you prepaid amounts for years beyond 2015.
Potential savings: The Joint Committee on Taxation found taxpayers saved approximately $200 million with mortgage insurance deductions in 2013.
4. Energy efficiency improvements you’ve made to your home: Thanks to the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, homeowners may be able to write off 30 percent of the cost of qualified energy saving systems they’ve installed — including solar electric systems and water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, small wind energy structures and fuel cell property systems. The credit is valid through Dec. 31, 2016. Enter your ZIP code to check for potential additional energy incentives on DSIRE’s state-specific energy incentive database, and use these 5 tips to determine if solar energy makes sense for your home.
Exceptions: One type of improvement, fuel cell systems, has a Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit maximum limit — $1,000 for each kilowatt of capacity of the property.
Potential savings: Aside from the fuel cell system, as long as the energy savings system is qualified, there’s no limit for the Residential Energy Efficient Credit amount for any other qualifying improvements you made.
Remember: The amount you’ll save on taxes as a homeowner depends, in part, on your filing status — whether you file as single, married or head of household — and your itemized deductions, standard deduction amount, and income.
However, if you’re considering buying a home and know what your interest rate, property tax and several other purchase factors will be, Freddie Mac’s tax savings calculator can help you estimate roughly how much owning a home will save you each year.
*The above is not intended as tax advice. Some or all of the tax benefits described may not apply to you based on your particular situation. Consult your tax advisor.