Saving Tax with Home-Related Deductions & Exclusions

Currently, home ownership comes with many tax-saving opportunities. Consider both deductions and exclusions when you are filing your 2016 return and tax planning for 2017:

Property Tax Deduction

Property tax is generally fully deductible — unless you are subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT).

Mortgage Interest Deduction

You generally can deduct interest on up to a combined total of $1 million of mortgage debt incurred to purchase, build, or improve your principal residence and a second residence. Points paid related to your principal residence also may be deductible.

Home equity debt interest deduction. Interest on home equity debt used for any purpose (debt limit of $100,000) may be deductible. However, keep in mind that, if home equity debt isn’t used for home improvements, the interest isn’t deductible for AMT purposes.

Mortgage Insurance Premium Deduction

This break expired December 31, 2016, but Congress might extend it.

Home Office Deduction

If your home office use meets certain tests, you generally can deduct a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, utilities and certain other expenses, and the depreciation allocable to the space. You may also be able to use a simplified method for claiming the deduction.

Rental Income Exclusion

If you rent out all or a portion of your principal residence or second home for less than 15 days, you do not have to report the income. However, expenses directly associated with the rental, such as advertising and cleaning, will not be deductible.

Home Sale Gain Exclusion

When you sell your principal residence, you can exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of gain if you meet certain tests. Be aware that gain allocable to a period of “nonqualified” use generally is not excludable.

Debt Forgiveness Exclusion

This break for homeowners who received debt forgiveness in a foreclosure, short sale, or mortgage workout for a principal residence expired December 31, 2016, but Congress might extend it.

The debt forgiveness exclusion and mortgage insurance premium deduction are not the only home-related breaks that might not be available in the future. There have been proposals to eliminate other breaks, such as the property tax deduction, as part of tax reform.

Whether such changes will be signed into law and, if so, when they would go into effect is uncertain. Also, keep in mind that additional rules and limits apply to these breaks. So contact us for information on the latest tax reform developments or which home-related breaks you are eligible to claim.

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