Taxes Can property taxes be deducted? Property taxes on all real estate, including those levied by state and local governments and school districts, are fully deductible against current income taxes.
Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible on a second home if you itemize. Check with your accountant or tax adviser for specifics.
How are property taxes configured? Property taxes are what most homeowners in the United States pay for the privilege of owning a piece of real estate, on average 1.5 percent of the property's current market value. These annual local assessments by county or local authorities help pay for public services and are calculated using a variety of formulas.
How does home mortgage tax deductions work? The mortgage interest deduction entitles you to completely deduct the interest on your home loan for the year in which you paid it. Mortgage interest is not a dollar-for-dollar tax cut; it reduces taxable income. You must itemize deductions in order to do this, which means your total deductions must exceed the IRS's standard deduction.
Another point to remember is that the amount of interest on your loan goes down each year you pay on your mortgage (all standard home-loan formulas pay off interest first before significantly paying into principal). That's why paying extra on your principal every year can help you pay off your loan early.
What is an impound account? An impound account is a trust account established by the lender to hold money to pay for real estate taxes, and mortgage and homeowners insurance premiums as they are received each month.
Are points deductible? If you are a buyer, and you or the seller pays points, they are deductible for the year in which they are paid only. You also can deduct any points you pay when you refinance your home, but you must do so ratably over the life of the loan. Consult your tax or financial advisor.
Are there tax breaks for first-time buyers? Many city and county governments offer Mortgage Credit Certificate programs, which allow first-time homebuyers to take advantage of a special federal income tax write-off, which makes qualifying for a mortgage loan easier.
Requirements vary from program to program. People wanting to apply should contact their local housing or community development office.
Some things to keep in mind:
Some credit may be claimed only on your owner-occupied principal residence. There are maximum income limits, which vary by locality and family size. You must be a first-time homebuyer, which means you must not have had any kind of ownership interest in a principal residence during the past three years. This restriction may be waived, however, if you are buying property within certain target areas.
Allocations must be available. A local MCC program may have to decline new applications when it runs out of funds.
Are home improvements deductible? What you spend on permanent home improvements, such as new windows, can be added into your home's cost basis, or amount of money invested in a home, which reduces capital gains when it comes time to sell. Capital gains are determined by the difference in price from the time a home is purchased and the time it is sold, minus the cost of any permanent improvements.
However, the 1997 tax changes virtually eliminate the capital gains tax for most homeowners (the exemption is $250,000 for single homeowners and $500,000 for married homeowners.
Still, it is worthwhile to save all receipts for permanent home improvements just in case. They also can be useful documentation when it comes to marketing your home when you sell.