A new homeowner’s guide to taxes

April 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

There are many tax benefits to homeownership and they can apply to single-family residences, condominiums, townhouses or even mobile homes. While it remains your option to take the standard deduction, homeowners most often file using Form 1040, along with a Schedule A form, where deductible expenses are itemized. Here are some tips to help you take full advantage of your property this tax season.

Mortgage Interest

and Points

The monthly mortgage interest you paid is deductible, unless your loan tops $1 million or home equity debt exceeds $100,000. At those amounts, the Internal Revenue Service limits the level of interest you can deduct.

Points are prepaid interest charges that help buyers get a better rate on a purchase, refinance or home equity loan and may be deducted in the year paid, as long as certain requirements are met.

Real Estate Taxes

This is a deduction you don’t want to overlook.

Your monthly loan payment includes a percentage toward real estate taxes, which is held in an escrow account until time for the taxes to be paid. Your lender must keep track of this and should include the yearly amounts in the annual statements issued to you.

For new homeowners, make sure you hold onto closing documents. They contain the information on how tax payments were divided between you and the seller for the tax year in which you bought your home. Your share is deductible.

Additional Assets

Mortgage interest on a second home also is deductible and that includes condominiums, boats and RVs with bathrooms and kitchens. In total, all loans on multiple properties must come in under a $1.1 million cap.

Another caution: If you rent a property for more than 14 days, or more than 10 percent of the number of days you rent it out, whichever is longer, you can deduct rental expenses but you must report the rental income on a Schedule E form.

Energy Efficiency

2013 is the last year to claim a credit for solar energy installations on your primary residence or up to $500 on efficiency-related improvements that include insulation or exterior windows and doors, as well as new heating, cooling and water-heating equipment.

The solar credit is 30 percent of your cost with no cap. The $500 maximum credit does not apply to rentals or new construction. Anyone who has already claimed this credit in an amount of $500 in any previous year is ineligible.

These credits expired in December and would have to be extended by Congress.

Moving Expenses

If you moved last year to take a new job or start a business, you may be able to deduct certain expenses as long as the move is related to work and you meet distance and time tests.

What You Can’t Deduct

While owning a home has significant tax advantages, there are some costs that do not carry tax breaks.

Repairs. You’ll have to bear the full costs for repairs but keep your records for the time you own the home. When you sell, the accumulative amount you’ve invested in improvements could help boost the basis for your house and lower taxes on your profit from the sale. But you will need receipts to prove your expenses for those repairs.

Private Mortgage Insurance. If you were not able to come up with a 20 percent down payment and therefore paid private mortgage insurance or PMI, this is not deductible. There are some temporary exceptions.

A deduction is allowed for PMI premiums on new mortgages issued between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2013. Without an extension from Congress, this is the last year this deduction can be claimed.

Hazard Insurance. This is generally required for mortgage approval but remains non-deductible.

However, if you use a portion of your home to operate a business and have a casualty loss, you can deduct the business part or your loss under business expenses.

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