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Has Tax Reform Taken Away Your Home Mortgage Interest Deduction?

Charles Woodson, Home Mortgage Deduction, Tax Reform, Tax Advisor, San Diego, CA

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, more commonly referred to as tax reform, substantially altered the itemized deduction for home mortgage interest and affects just about everyone who has been deducting their home mortgage interest as an itemized deduction on their tax returns.

Background: To fully understand the impact of the law changes, we need to compare the prior tax law to the new tax reform. Under prior law, a taxpayer could deduct the interest he or she paid on up to $1 million of acquisition debt and $100,000 of equity debt secured by the taxpayer’s primary home and/or designated second home.

Qualified home acquisition debt is debt incurred to purchase, construct, or substantially improve a taxpayer’s primary home or second home and is secured by the home. The interest paid on up to $1 million of acquisition debt has been deductible as part of itemized deductions on Schedule A.

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Deducting Your Mortgage Interest After The Tax Reform

This past week, the IRS offered guidance on its website on the new restrictions placed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) on the home mortgage interest deduction.

The guidance is noteworthy for the U.S. expat community, because when it comes to the home mortgage interest deduction, the tax code does not distinguish between a home in the U.S. and a home abroad. In appropriate circumstances, the mortgage interest deduction can be an important tax saving method for citizens living abroad.

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What Can Be Deducted As Home Mortgage Interest?

This is the second in a four-part series on home mortgages. (Click here to read Part 1 – The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction) We will examine what can be deducted as home mortgage interest. Interest on the debt is deductible up to the statutory limits on the amounts of deductible debt ($1,000,000 for acquisition debt, $100,000 for home equity debt). Interest on excess debt is personal debt and not deductible. In addition, any amount of home equity or refinanced debt that is not used build, buy, or improve the residence is also classified as non-deductible personal debt.

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