Here are some ways to save money on taxes:
* Mortgage interest on loans up to $1 million is completely deductible for the year in which you pay it to buy, build or improve your principal residence plus a second home.
* Points, or loan origination fees, also are deductible no matter who pays them, the buyer or the seller.
* Most homeowners, except the wealthy and those living in high-priced markets, no longer need to worry about capital gains taxes. The exemption has been raised to $500,000 for married couples and $250,000 for single owners. It can be taken every two years. Homeowners should always keep all receipts of permanent home improvements and of mortgage closing costs. If you do have to pay capital gains taxes, these costs can be added to your adjusted cost basis. Consult your tax adviser for more information.
* “Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners,” IRS Publication 530, and “Selling Your Home,” IRS Publication 523. Call (800) TAX-FORM to order.
Can you deduct the cost of home improvements?
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 eliminates 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.
What tax benefits are there to homeowners?
Homeowners benefit from several generous tax advantages. The most important benefit is the mortgage interest deduction. People may deduct interest paid on mortgage loans totaling up to $1 million used to buy, build or improve a principal residence plus a second home. The IRS calls such loans acquisition debt.
Points paid by the buyer or seller on a new mortgage loan for the purchase or improvement of a principal residence are deductible for the year in which the home was purchased.
Any points paid on a refinance mortgage, a loan to purchase a second home or a mortgage on income property must be spread over the life of the loan, according to Edith Lank and Miriam S. Geisman, authors of “Your Home as a Tax Shelter,” Dearborn Financial Publishing, Chicago; 1993.
Note that when obtaining a new $255 Payday Loans Online Same Day mortgage, the borrower usually is asked to pay interest from the closing date until the first of the next month. Check whether that charge is included in the year-end report.
Property taxes on all real estate, including those levied by state and local governments and school districts, are fully deductible against current income, say Lank and Geisman.
“A homeowner cannot deduct maintenance expenses, nor can he take depreciation deductions on his personal residence,” states the “Realty Bluebook,” 30th Ed., Dearborn Financial Publishing, Chicago; 1993.
Some moving expenses are deductible for people who changed jobs and relocated as a result. The IRS requires that the new employment be located at least 50 miles away, among other considerations, said Analisa Collins-Sears, a public affairs officer with the IRS’ Bay Area office.
Resources: * “Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners,” a free guide published by the Internal Revenue Service. Order by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM.