Tax season is a great reminder of the financial benefits of home ownership. If you bought a house in 2015, check this list to make sure you’re including these items in your deductions. If you’re thinking of buying a home, these are some compelling reasons to stop paying rent and make that first purchase.
- Mortgage Interest – This is the big one. All the interest you paid in 2015 is tax deductible (for loans under $1 million). Since a big chunk of your payment is interest, that’s a lot of savings. You can also deduct mortgage interest for second homes, including boats and RVs with sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities built in. If you rent out your second property, you can’t deduct this unless you spend a certain amount of time living there (14 days or 10% more than the number of days rented). You can also deduct interest on equity loans under $100,000.
- Mortgage Points – If you purchased a home in 2015, you can deduct the points you paid to originate the loan. A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. Depending on the lender, you could have paid 1 to 3 points. Let’s look at an example in one US City. In Las Vegas, the median home price in 2015 was $217,000, so one point for that price is $2,170. If you refinance, you can also deduct those points but only over the life of the loan. On a 30-year mortgage on $217,000, you’d get $72.33 annually in tax deduction (based on 12 monthly payments of $6.02). Did you take out a home equity loan or establish a line of credit? You can deduct these points the same way as a refinance.
Did you take out a home equity loan or establish a line of credit? You can deduct these points the same way as a refinance.
- Mortgage Insurance Premiums – If you are paying mortgage insurance on a qualified loan (not for an FHA-insured loan), you can deduct all your mortgage insurance if your annual income is under $100,000.
- Closing costs – In addition to mortgage points, you can also deduct loan-origination fees, prepayment penalties and any remainder of taxes, PMI owed from the property you sell. You should also talk to your tax preparer about how capitalized closing costs (i.e. attorney, notary, escrow fees) are factored.
- Capital Gains Exclusion – When you sell your home, you can keep the profits (maximum $250,000 single, $500,000 married) and not owe capital gains taxes. Can you think of another investment with this benefit that doesn’t make you wait until you retire? Think about selling for a flat fee to increase your profits. Talk to your tax preparer if you took home office deductions, got energy credits or made capital improvements as these affect your home’s adjusted basis (net cost) for capital gains.
- Property taxes – You can deduct the annual amount of your property taxes. In Clark County, that’s .96 percent of assessed value. For example, the tax on a $200,000 assessment that you can deduct is $1,920. Renters, chances are your rent includes this tax, but you’re not the one who gets the deduction.
- Energy credits – This is a great incentive that’s been extended through 2016. You can write off 30 percent of the cost of energy-saving systems, thanks to the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (go to http://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit for more information). In Nevada, some of the systems you can deduct are Solar, Wind and Geothermal Heat Pumps. You can also include certain energy-saving appliances, HVAC units and lighting.
- Home improvements – If you made home improvements for qualified medical reasons (i.e. wheelchair access) or a business-related home office, you may be able to deduct those costs. If you want to make other home improvements, you can only deduct interest (if it’s part of your home purchase price or equity loan). Certain renovations considered capital improvements should be documented for capital gains tax savings when you sell your house.
- Home office – From phone lines to heating bills, you can deduct expenses for a qualified office. As a renter, you can also take home office deductions, but not for items related to actually owning the property such as renovations.
Home ownership offers so many benefits, from the American Dream of having your own place to the financial rewards of investing in real estate. The tax benefits alone should get you thinking about owning a home. Talk to a realtor and a tax preparer to get the most out of your purchase.
This article was also published in a real estate column for the Las Vegas Tribune on behalf of Chuck Maxfield, General Manager of Redefy Real Estate, Las Vegas.
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