Life Events Series: How Will Buying My First House Help My Taxes?

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A great milestone of your financial life is the purchase of your first home.  While less exciting, the tax implications of that achievement are no less critical.  After all, home ownership creates several new opportunities for you to save on your taxes.  Got your attention?

Mortgage Interest Deduction

That big fat mortgage payment you now have to pay every month has an upside. The interest portion of every payment is tax deductible.  Keep in mind that, at the beginning of your mortgage, most of your payment is interest, meaning that the overwhelming majority of your payment may be tax deductible.

Real Estate Tax Deduction

Money you pay for real estate taxes is tax deductible.  While it’s never fun to learn that your property taxes have gone up again, at least you will be able to take some solace in knowing your tax deductions (and your resulting income tax savings) will increase at the same rate.

Charitable Donation Deduction

While the charitable donation deduction might seem unrelated to a home purchase, this is income taxes we’re talking about.  Before you purchased your home, you may not have had enough tax deductions to itemize your deductions.

Why?  Since your standard deduction was greater than your itemized deductions, you did not benefit from any of the itemized deductions like charitable contributions.  But when you became a homeowner, the mortgage interest and real estate taxes alone often make it so that you will be able to itemize and you are now eligible for additional tax deductions. One of the most common of these is the charitable donation deduction. So, if you tithe at church or give clothes to the Vietnam Veterans, you will now also receive a tax benefit from doing so.

Other Considerations for First Time Home Buyers

Save your closing statement (HUD).  When you file your tax return for the first time after buying a home, additional expenses incurred on your HUD may be tax deductible, including prepaid interest (points) you pay at closing.

Save all of your home improvement receipts.  You are likely to sell your home one day.  Most home sales do not result in income tax.  However, it is possible if you move very quickly or make a very big profit. To lessen the odds you will owe capital gains taxes on the sale of your home, save your receipts for home improvements made which can increase your cost lowering your gain when you sell.

Welcome to the world of home ownership. It can be wonderful and expensive. Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to keep your costs in line.  Start with taking maximum advantage of the tax deductions available to you.

Don’t worry about knowing all of these tax deductions, TurboTax will ask you simple questions, and give you the tax deductions you’re eligible for based on your answers.

Comments (6) Leave your comment

  1. I bought a house last year and paid cash. Is there a deduction or tax break for first time home buyers without a mortgage?

  2. I normally receive my turbo tax by mail, I have not received it as of yet, however I might need a upgrade I purchased a new home this year and also I am owner financing my mobile home that I used live in.. Any help would be appreciated.

  3. Last year I paid my 2012 taxes in January. This year I am able to pay my 2013 taxes in December. Am I allowed to deduct both since they were paid in 2013?

  4. My husband and I bought our first home 3 years ago. He is very handy and have made some major changes to the house, such as changing a window onto a patio door that has access to the side yard and to a newly built deck. Since this work was not done by a contractor, can we still deduct the cost of these upgrades, AND are these tax deductible when we sell the house or before?

    1. Hi Britany,
      The materials and supplies used for the improvements are added to the cost basis of your house. You cannot add the value of your husband’s labor. There is no deduction for them currently.
      When you sell the house, you will include these costs in determining the profit you make on the sale, and if the profit exceeds a certain amount, ($500,000 for a married couple filing a joint tax return) you will be taxed on the excess.
      Mary Ellen

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