Few people consider the tax implications of buying a home, but there are many. Here are a few ways buying a home can impact the amount of tax you pay.
Most people put down the minimum amount of money needed to buy a home and finance the rest, usually over 30 years. This means that, especially in the early years of the loan, most of what they are paying are the finance charges. The good news is that all that interest is tax-deductible for people who itemize their deductions, which adds up to several thousands of dollars in deductions annually. You also can deduct interest on home equity loans, up to a certain amount.
Another way that buying a home affects your taxes is property taxes. In most jurisdictions, property taxes are based to some extent on the price you pay for your home, meaning the more you pay, the higher your taxes will be. The positive is that, just as with mortgage interest, those property taxes you pay are deductible if you itemize deductions on your income tax return.
Points are up-front fees you pay to lower the interest rate on your home mortgage. If you paid them when buying your home, you can deduct the entire amount on your tax return. If you paid points on a refinance or home equity loan, you have to deduct them a bit at a time over the entire term of the loan.
One of the reasons many people treat homes as an investment is the favorable tax treatment on profit from a sale. For example, in the United States as long as the home is your principal residence for at least two years out of the five years before you sell, you can exclude up to a $250,000 gain from capital gains taxes, or $500,000 if you are married.
Buying a home for the first time is one of the few situations in which the government allows you take money from retirement accounts early without paying a tax penalty. For example, you can take up to $10,000 out of an individual retirement account without having to pay the early withdrawal penalty, although you still might face income taxes if your contributions were tax-deferred.
If you are considering buying a home, contact a real estate professional to discuss the potential tax and other benefits.