Homeowner Tax Breaks: All the Ways Your House Can Boost Your Tax Refund (2024)

Owning a house in the US is expensive, especially with rapidly rising home prices over the past decade -- theCase-Shiller US National Home Price Indexhas set record highs for the past several years. And in additional to expensive down payments and mortgages, US homeowners pay an average of $17,459 every year for "hidden expenses," according to the Real Estate Witch.

All those expenses come with a silver lining, however -- tax credits and deductions for your home that can lead to a bigger tax refund. For homeowners, learning as much as you can about your potential tax benefits can help you maximize your tax refund when you file your income tax return.

Most homeowners with mortgages know they can deduct payments toward their loan interest, but many tax deductions and tax credits involved in owning a house are less obvious. Learn about all the possible tax breaks for homeowners to get the biggest refund possible on your taxes.

For more on taxes, learn about the biggest tax credits and how to create an online IRS account.

How can homeowners take tax breaks?

Most income tax breaks for homeowners are tax deductions, which are reductions to your taxable income. The less of your income that is taxed, the less money you pay in taxes.

When you file your tax return, you must decide whether to take the standard deduction -- $13,850 for single tax filers, $27,700 for joint filers or $20,800 for heads of household or married filing separately -- or itemize deductions, such as gifts to charity and state taxes.

To take advantage of homeowner tax deductions, you'll need to itemize your deductions using Form 1040 Schedule A. Your decision to itemize will depend on whether your itemized deductions are greater than your standard deduction. All of the best tax software can quickly help you decide whether to itemize (as well as help you fill out all of the tax forms mentioned in this article).

Tax credits for homeowners don't require you to itemize. They directly reduce the amount of taxes you owe, and you can usually get those credits whether or not you itemize deductions.

Mortgage interest deduction is a big tax break

Mortgage interest -- or the amount of interest you pay on your home loan yearly -- is one of the most common tax deductions for homeowners. It's also often the most lucrative, particularly for new homeowners whose payments generally go more toward loan interest during the first years of a mortgage.

Homeowners filing taxes jointly can deduct all payments for mortgage interest on loans up to $1 million, or loans up to $750,000 if made after Dec. 15, 2017. Single filers get half those amounts -- $500,000 or $375,000, respectively.

To deduct your mortgage interest, you'll need to fill out IRS Form 1098, which you should receive from your lender in early 2024. You can then enter the amount from Line 1 on that Form 1098 into Line 8 of 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage points can be deducted, too

You can buymortgage points, also called "discount points," when buying a house to decrease the interest on the mortgage. Each 1% of the mortgage amount that home buyers pay on top of their down payment generally reduces their interest rate by 0.25%, though the exact amount will depend on the lender and the loan.

Discount points can save you big money on a 30-year mortgage by lowering the total interest you'll have to pay across decades, but they can also save you money on your taxes when you buy them. The IRS considers mortgage points to be prepaid interest, so you can add the amount paid for points to your total mortgage interest that's entered on Line 8 of 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage-interest tax credits can give new homeowners big money

Homeowners who have received a Mortgage Credit Certificate from a state or local government -- usually acquired via a mortgage lender -- can get a percentage of their mortgage interest payments back as a tax credit. Mortgage certificate credit rates vary based on states and can range between 10% and 50% up to a maximum credit of $2,000.

This homeowner tax tip is most effective if you are a first-time homeowner, which is generously defined as not living in a home that you've owned for the past three years. If you're buying your first home, be sure to ask your lender or mortgage broker to see if you qualify for an MCC.

To file for your mortgage-interest tax credit, use IRS Form 8396. Remember, you don't need to itemize deductions to claim tax credits.

Property taxes are deductible, but only in part

Local and state real estate taxes, more commonly called property taxes, can be deducted from your taxes, but at a far lower amount than before 2017.

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, you can only deduct up to $10,000 combined from your property taxes and state and local income taxes. Before 2017, your entire amount of property taxes was deductible.

To claim your property tax deduction, you'll need to track your annual property tax payments. Your real estate taxes might also be listed in Box 10 of Form 1098 from your mortgage lender. Enter your total amount of real estate taxes paid for the year in Line 5b of 1040 Schedule A.

Home office expenses can be deducted if you're self employed

Homeowners who use any part of their house, apartment or condo "exclusively and regularly" for their own business or side gig can claim home business expenses using IRS Form 8829. These deductions are available to renters, too.

The easiest way to claim a home-office tax break is by using the standard home-office deduction, which is based on $5 per square foot used for business up to 300 square feet. The "regular method" for deducting a home office involves calculating the percentage of your home that is used for business. Both methods use Form 8829 for reporting.

Home-office deductions aren't available to remote employees of companies.

Get 30% back on the cost of an electric vehicle charging station

Electric vehicle charging stations can give you money back on your tax bill. If you install any alternative energy charging station in your home, you get a maximum credit of 30% of the cost or $1,000 (whichever is smaller). File IRS Form 8911 to claim your tax credit for the money spent on clean energy installation.

Energy-efficiency tax credits get even bigger in 2024

Homeowner Tax Breaks: All the Ways Your House Can Boost Your Tax Refund (2)

If you made energy-efficient improvements to your home in 2023, you can likely get back some of that money as tax credits, but it gets a little complicated. There are two types of tax credits for home energy improvements -- the residential clean energy credit and the energy efficient home improvement credit.

The residential clean energy credit can give you 30% back on any money you spent installing solar electricity, solar water heating, wind energy, geothermal heat pumps, biomass fuel systems or fuel cell property. The only limit is for fuel cell property -- $500 for each half a kilowatt of capacity.

The energy-efficient home improvement credit, also known as the nonbusiness energy property credit, is then split into two categories -- "residential energy property costs" and "qualified energy efficiency improvements."

In the first case of energy property costs, you'll get a flat tax credit of $50 to $300 for installing Energy Star-certified items like heat pumps, water heaters or furnaces. In the second case of qualified improvements, you can get a 10% tax credit for the cost of improvements like adding insulation, fixing a roof or replacing windows.

The energy efficient home improvement credit previously had a $500 lifetime limit for all improvements, but starting with the 2023 tax year, the Inflation Reduction Act replaces that lifetime limit with a $1,200 annual limit.

To claim tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements made in 2023, you'll need to document your costs on IRS Form 5695.

You can also deduct interest from home equity loans

Any interest from a home equity loan or second mortgage can be deducted from your taxes just like regular mortgage interest, with the important limit of maximum loan totals of $1 million or $750,000 (for joint filers) if you purchased your home after Dec. 15, 2017.

It's also very important to note that the 2017 tax law limits deductions for home equity loan interest to money that is used to "buy, build or substantially improve" homes. If you borrowed money to pay for a new car or vacation, you're out of luck.

If you did pay interest on a home equity loan that was used directly on your residence, you can claim the deduction on the same line as mortgage interest and mortgage points: Line 8 on Form 1040 Schedule A.

When selling a home, include all your improvements in the cost basis

Any income you earn from selling a home is taxable as a capital gain (with a notable exclusion -- see below). Your gain is calculated by the difference between your sale price for the home and your "cost basis." That cost basis includes what you paid for the home, the price of improvements that you may have made as well as any property loss from depreciation or casualty.

If you've put in a new roof, replaced a furnace, refinished floors or even landscaped the garden, be sure to include those costs to increase your adjusted basis and reduce the amount of your capital gains on the sale.

If you sold your primary residence, you get a great tax deduction

When you sell a home, you'll need to pay taxes on the amount of money you earned on the sale as capital gains. However, if you live in the home for two of the previous five years before selling, you get a very large tax exclusion -- $500,000 for married joint filers, or $250,000 for single or separate filers.

All Americans receive this tax exclusion regardless of their age and how many times they've benefited from it before. Note that the residence requirements apply whether you own the home or not. If you rent a house for two years and then buy it, you're free to sell with the standard residence exclusion at any time.

You'll likely receive the tax information about the sale of your home in a 1099-S form, and you'll report your ultimate gain -- with that $500,000/$250,000 exclusion -- on IRS Form 8949. If you don't receive a 1099-S form and your profit on the house is less than the exclusion, you don't need to report the sale on your taxes at all.

How to deduct home improvements for medical reasons

Medical expenses can be a major tax deduction, but only if they go over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, which is essentially your taxable income. Any home improvements -- safety bars, accessibility ramps, wider doorways, railings and lifts, for example -- related to medical conditions can be included in your tax deductions for medical expenses.

Keep all your receipts and invoices and include the total cost of the improvements or additions with all of your additional medical and dental expenses on Line 1 of 1040 Schedule A.

Which home expenses are not tax deductible?

Despite all of the tax breaks available for homeowners, there are some home-related expenses that can't be deducted from your income.

  • Your down payment for a mortgage.
  • Any mortgage payments toward the loan principal.
  • Utility costs like gas, electricity and water.
  • Fire or homeowner's insurance.
  • House cleaning or lawn maintenance.
  • Any depreciation of your home's value.

Everyone's tax situation is unique. Before making major tax decisions, we recommend consulting a tax professional who can help you with both federal and state tax laws.

For more on income taxes, learn how to create an online IRS account.

As an enthusiast deeply versed in the intricacies of homeownership and tax implications, it's evident that navigating the complex landscape of tax breaks for homeowners requires a nuanced understanding of the various deductions and credits available. The article delves into the multifaceted realm of tax benefits associated with owning a house in the US, offering insights into both common and often overlooked avenues for reducing taxable income.

  1. TheCase-Shiller US National Home Price Index: The article references the Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index, a widely recognized indicator of home price trends. The Index's record highs over the past several years highlight the challenges associated with the increasing cost of homeownership.

  2. Hidden Expenses: The mention of homeowners paying an average of $17,459 annually for "hidden expenses" underscores the financial commitment beyond mortgages and down payments. This includes maintenance, insurance, and other costs associated with homeownership.

  3. Tax Credits and Deductions: The central theme revolves around the potential tax benefits that come with homeownership. Despite the substantial costs, homeowners can leverage tax credits and deductions to optimize their tax refunds.

  4. Tax Deductions for Homeowners: The article distinguishes between tax deductions and tax credits. Homeowners can either take the standard deduction or itemize deductions, depending on which option offers greater tax advantages.

  5. Mortgage Interest Deduction: A cornerstone of homeowner tax benefits, the article emphasizes the significance of deducting mortgage interest. The specifics of the deduction, including the amounts for joint filers and single filers, are highlighted.

  6. Mortgage Points Deduction: The discussion extends to mortgage points, illustrating how these can lead to savings on both mortgage interest and tax liabilities. The IRS treats mortgage points as prepaid interest, making them deductible.

  7. Mortgage-Interest Tax Credits: New homeowners with a Mortgage Credit Certificate may qualify for tax credits on a percentage of their mortgage interest payments. The article provides insights into the eligibility criteria and the use of IRS Form 8396 for claiming this credit.

  8. Property Tax Deductions: Changes in property tax deductions post the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are highlighted. The article guides homeowners on tracking annual property tax payments and claiming deductions within the revised limits.

  9. Home Office Expenses Deduction: Homeowners engaged in self-employment can benefit from deductions related to home office expenses. IRS Form 8829 is referenced as the means to claim these deductions.

  10. Electric Vehicle Charging Station Credits: Installing alternative energy charging stations at home can result in tax credits. Form 8911 is identified as the avenue for claiming these credits.

  11. Energy-Efficiency Tax Credits: Homeowners making energy-efficient improvements in 2023 may qualify for tax credits under the residential clean energy credit and the energy-efficient home improvement credit. The article details the eligible improvements and the associated credits.

  12. Home Equity Loan Interest Deduction: The article provides clarity on deducting interest from home equity loans, emphasizing the importance of usage for home-related purposes.

  13. Selling a Home and Capital Gains: Home improvements play a role in calculating the cost basis when selling a home. The article explains the tax exclusion for primary residences and the reporting requirements.

  14. Tax Deductions for Medical Home Improvements: Medical expenses related to home improvements can be tax-deductible. The article advises on documentation and reporting procedures.

  15. Non-Deductible Home Expenses: The article concludes by highlighting certain home-related expenses that cannot be deducted, such as down payments, mortgage payments toward the principal, utility costs, insurance, and depreciation.

In essence, the comprehensive coverage in this article equips homeowners with a robust understanding of the tax landscape, emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making and, when needed, seeking professional tax advice.

Homeowner Tax Breaks: All the Ways Your House Can Boost Your Tax Refund (2024)
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