The terrain of homeowner tax credits is shifting slightly this year, and it is still unclear how it will all settle. Several credits homeowners have enjoyed the past few years have already expired. Which credits still exist in spite of the looming fiscal cliff, and which credits are on the probable chopping block?
Already Axed, Or Endangered Credits
• Credits for mortgage insurance premiums (a requirement for a mortgage when the homeowner owns less than 20% equity) expired at the end of 2011.
• Current budget talks may include the possibility of a cap on mortgage interest deductions (MID). For decades, this tax break has allowed homeowners to deduct the interest paid on a secured mortgage. On a nationwide average, homeowners deduct as much as $10,640, and more for higher-market housing areas, according to the IRS. Most vulnerable to deduction caps are high-income households. At this point it’s all conjecture, but worth watching.
• Green tax credits, like those for installing energy efficient windows or appliances, expired at the end of 2011. However, tax breaks are available until 2016 for installation of geothermal heat pumps, small residential wind turbines, solar energy systems, and fuel cells. Consult energystar.gov for more details.
• Property Taxes, whether you pay a lump sum out of pocket, or through an escrow account, are still deductible from your state and federal taxes.
• Purchased points can be deducted, but there are specific guidelines for the amount of points purchased, and the timing of deducting them. Consult IRS.gov for more details, or your accountant.
• If you sold your home this year, certain selling costs are eligible for deductions, like inspection fees, legal fees, title insurance, even agent commissions. If you paid for home improvements within 90 days of the sale just to make your home more appealing to buyers, these costs may also qualify for deductions. Collect and save all receipts and records for tax time.
• Working from home still grants you certain tax perks, as long as your work zone is a designated area in your home. Improvements to that space (like paint or new flooring), office supplies and furniture, computers and other equipment may all be deducted. Don’t forget to add in utilities and mortgage costs for the office, based on its percentage of area to the rest of the home.
Making use of these tax credits requires skipping the short tax form and itemizing. Some homeowners find it is more beneficial to take the standard deduction. Consult a tax professional to help you make the most of the credits available to homeowners this year.
William Brundage 248-980-2455