You are celebrating your first year as a new homeowner which means experiencing many firsts. Your first home renovation, your first winter as the primary caretaker of a hot water heater (is it supposed to make that noise?) and now, your first tax season. Dealing with taxes for the first time after buying your home can be stressful. We’ve simplified the process with a few tips to guide you as you prepare your 2021 taxes as a new homeowner.
Should You DIY Your Taxes as a new homeowner?
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Compare Eligible Deductions to The Standard Deduction
Tax deductions for homeowners can amount to thousands of dollars. However, claiming them is worth the effort if all your itemized deductions exceed the IRS standard deduction.
The standard deduction for the 2021 tax year is:
- $25,100 for married couples filing jointly (+$300 from the 2020)
- $12,550 for single filers and married individuals filing separately (+$150 from the 2020)
- $18,800 for heads of households (+$150 from the 2020)
Add up all the deductions you qualify for and if the amount is more than the standard deduction, it makes sense to take the itemized deduction. If not, take the standard deduction. Here are the tax breaks for homeowners to consider in your calculations.
Tax Breaks for New Homeowners
- Mortgage interest
- Discount points
- Property taxes
- Home office expenses
- Renewable energy additions
- Medically necessary home improvements
- Property damage not covered by insurance
If you pay a mortgage on your home, you are eligible for an interest deduction. By deducting what you paid in interest on your home loan you can reduce your taxable income.
Previously homeowners could deduct up to $1 million in mortgage interest. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced that limit to $750,000 for single filers or married couples filing jointly. If you are married but filing separately, the deduction limit is $375,000 for each person.
Learn more at IRS.gov: The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction (PDF)
Homeowners have the option to buy “discount points” to lower the interest on their mortgage. Since these points lower the amount of interest paid on the mortgage, you can deduct the cost of the points from your taxable income.
However, not all mortgage “points” are tax deductible. “Loan origination points” are handled differently and are not tax deductible because they don’t affect the interest rate of your loan.
Learn more on IRS.gov: Home Mortgage Points
Homeowners can deduct up to $10,000 ($5,000 if married and filing separately) of property taxes in combination with state and local income taxes or sales taxes. Taxes are based on current property values and don’t include assessment for sidewalks, water mains, sewer line, parking lots or similar improvements.
Learn more on IRS.gov: Deductible Taxes
Home Office Expenses
If you are self-employed and work from home, your home office may be tax-deductible. However, if you work for someone else as an employee, you can’t claim your home office as a federal deduction but may be eligible for a state deduction.
Renewable Energy Additions
In December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the Solar Investment Tax credit, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019 were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless it is renewed by Congress.
Prior to 2017 a wide variety of renewable energy deductions were available to homeowners. Now, those deductions are limited to solar energy.
Learn more at IRS.gov: Residential Energy Credits
Medically Necessary Home Improvements
Changes that you make to your home during the tax year will be classified either as a repair or an improvement. Repairs correct damage that restores your home to its original condition and value. Whereas, improvements modify your home changing it from its original condition in ways that typically increase its value.
Depending on your circumstances both repairs and improvements that are medically “necessary” may be tax deductible. You can only deduct up to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
Learn more at IRS.gov: Medical and Dental Expenses (PDF)
Property Damage Not Covered by Insurance
If you suffer property damage during your first tax year as a homeowner, you may be eligible for deductions. According to the IRS the damage must be the result of a sudden, unexpected or unusual event.
“Typically, property loss is caused by a car accident in which you are not at fault or the result of extreme weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes. However, the casualty deduction is also available if you are the victim of vandalism.”
The burden of proof for this credit is fairly high. You must prove that you own the property and have records detailing the damage exists and how it was caused. You must also deduct how much, if any, of the damage was covered by insurance. The IRS only accepts deductions based on the current fair market value of property.
Other restrictions also apply. For example, if your home was damaged by a fire, the fire must be a part of an accident for which you are not responsible such as a federally declared disaster.
Learn more at IRS.gov: Casualty, Disaster and Theft Losses
These Expenses are Not Eligible for Homeowner Tax Breaks
- Fire insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance premiums
- Homeowner association fees
- The principal amount of mortgage payment
- Domestic service
- The cost of utilities, including gas, electricity, or water
- Down payment
*Please Note: This blog does not substitute professional advice from a professional tax preparer. We aren’t qualified to make final decisions about your taxes. Only you can do that. We have, however, done extensive research about tax preparation. The results of this are a guidepost that can help consider your tax preparation options as a new homeowner.