Tax Time Tips for Mortgage Holders
It’s that time of year again when numbers such as 1040, W-2 and INT-1099 become all too familiar to millions of people. One of the benefits of holding a mortgage on your house is the ability to claim certain deductions that can assist you in offsetting some of your tax burden. As you prepare to file your yearly taxes let’s look at a few areas where you can take advantage of tax deductions and keep a little more green in your pocket this tax season.
The most obvious deduction that many tax filers take advantage of is the interest paid on the mortgage for their primary residence. For those of us with a mortgage balance of less than $1 million dollars (and hopefully that is the majority of us!) you can fill out Schedule A, also known as “itemized deductions”, and claim all the interest paid in the previous year on your mortgage. Keep in mind this is for your primary residence (where you live) only and does not include other properties and houses you may own for rental purposes, etc. If you paid off your mortgage this year and were slapped with a pre-payment penalty you can also use Schedule A to take a deduction on those fees as well.
Taxes paid to local governments, known as real estate or property taxes, are also tax deductible. If your mortgage company pays your taxes for you through an escrow account you can find the deductible amount listed there – else check your assessment notice sent to you by your local taxing authority.
If you decided to spruce up your home and took out a home equity loan you may also be eligible to take a deduction for the interest of the home equity loan. One thing to keep in mind though is if the home equity loan plus your mortgage amount puts you over the real value of your home in total amount owed there are limits to what you may deduct.
Points of all types are usually tax deductible as well. If you refinanced in the past year any points you paid to buy down the mortgage rate can be written off proportionately over the life of the loan. This means that if you have a 20 year mortgage, you get to deduct 1/20th of the points each year. An added bonus comes if you refinanced in a prior year and then refinanced against in the past year and ended up paying off the first refinance. Any points you had not deducted from that first loan now become eligible for write off in their entirety.
If you took out your mortgage in the past year, any points that you paid on the purchase are fully deductible if the mortgage was for your primary residence and you paid an amount down at least equal to the points you were charged. This one can be tricky, so be sure to consult your tax preparer for more information.
This tax season make sure you are taking advantage of every deduction you can; part of owning a home and having a mortgage means that you get to reap some of the benefits of that ownership through the tax system. Don’t let the IRS keep the money that you can use to help pay off that mortgage faster!