As April 15th nears yet again and you are preparing to pay Uncle Sam, don’t miss looking for homeowner tax benefits that may ease the pain of tax season. While some Americans debate whether buying a home is still part of the American dream, it is fair to say that tax code remains highly favorable to people who own instead of rent. Whether you were a first-time buyer, a longtime homeowner who refinanced, or a seller in 2012, there are a host of important deductions available.
HouseLogic.com, a consumer website created by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) points out seven important tax tips for home owners:
1. Mortgage interest is your best friend. Taxpayers collectively get roughly $100 billion annually in mortgage interest breaks. If you bought a home or refinanced in the last few years, the savings are even more significant, as more than half your monthly payment goes toward interest.
2. Mortgage insurance is still deductible. There were fears that the deduction for personal mortgage insurance would fall victim to fiscal fights in Washington. However, Congress left it in place. That’s a huge boon to lower-income homeowners who often can’t afford a big down payment and must pay private mortgage insurance until they have at least 20% equity in their homes.
3. Taxes are tax deductible. It sounds odd and is frequently overlooked, but homeowners can deduct their local and state property taxes on federal tax returns. There also may be special property tax benefits for lower-income home owners based on your state or municipality of residence, so look into further breaks specific to your community.
4. Qualified renovations count. Fixing a leaky faucet or putting crown moulding in the living room is not tax deductible. But there are a number of items in the tax code that allow for tax breaks and credits. A host of items covered under residential energy efficiency can provide tax relief, including new solar panels or certain water heaters. There are also deductions available for home office improvements, as well as for medically necessary changes, such as an entry ramp or a handicap-accessible bathtub.
5. Unqualified renovations can count later. While that addition might not be “necessary,” the expense could be an important part of reducing your tax burden when you sell. This is especially noteworthy in hot real estate markets or for homeowners sitting on big property appreciation. The IRS allows you only $250,000 of tax-free profit when you sell a primary residence, but you can deduct any renovations that boosted your home’s value from any total profit to get under that threshold. Find those receipts if you’re sitting on a big profit and planning to sell.
6. Claim selling costs. If you sold a home in the past year, costs including title insurance, advertising, and real estate broker fees can be claimed. You can claim certain repairs to reduce capital gains on the sale, presuming they were made within 90 days of sale and clearly for the intent of marketing the property. If selling a home less than what you originally paid, look for a loss to offset other income… even if it is a loss carry forward to next year.
7. Don’t forget moving expenses. If you bought a home in 2012, there’s a chance you did so because of a job-related move. If this is the case, you may be able to deduct some expenses, provided you have the receipts. You must have moved 50 miles or more, and the reasons for your move can’t be personal.
Home ownership can really pay off for many reasons! Contact The Purtee Team today to discuss your homeownership goals for 2013 whether you are looking to buy or sell, we are the experts in the Tampa Bay, Florida Area.
*Homeowners should consult a tax professional for specific advice about their own transactions or circumstances. Information on The Purtee Team Blog should not be relied on as tax or legal advice.