6 Tax Deductions Homeowners Won't Want to Miss

By Maurie Backman Markets Fool.com

Though there are plenty of good reasons to buy a home, owning property can be a costly prospect. From maintenance to insurance to real estate taxes, there are numerous costs that come with buying a home. But one major upside to homeownership are the tax benefits that come along with it. If you're a new homeowner, here are six deductions you don't want to miss out on.

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1. Mortgage interest deduction

Looking at your mortgage statement can be a demoralizing prospect during the early years of homeownership, especially once it becomes obvious that the majority of your payments are going toward the interest portion of your loan and not its principal. But before you get too down, remember: That interest will serve as a helpful tax deduction when the time comes to file your taxes. You can deduct interest on up to a $500,000 mortgage as a single tax filer or $1 million as a couple filing jointly.

2. Home-improvement loan interest deduction

Looking to spruce up your home? You might get a tax break for it. If you borrow money for the purpose of making home improvements, you can deduct whatever interest you pay on that loan with no upper limit. The only thing to keep in mind is that your loan must be used for capital improvements to your home, not repairs. If you borrow money to put up a new fence, finish your basement, or build an addition, you can deduct whatever interest you pay on your taxes. But if you take out a loan to repair a leaky roof, you won't be eligible for a deduction.

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3. PMI deduction

Many homeowners aim to make a 20% down payment to avoid getting hit with private mortgage insurance, or PMI. But if you're stuck paying PMI, there's some good news: You can deduct your premiums provided you don't make too much money. The PMI deduction starts to phase out when you earn $50,000 a year as a single tax filer or $100,000 as a couple filing jointly. And the deduction goes away completely when you earn more than $54,000 as a single filer or $109,000 as a couple filing a joint return.

4. Mortgage points deduction

Some borrowers pay mortgage points, which are up-front fees, in exchange for a lower long-term interest rate. A point on a mortgage is equal to 1% of the loan amount, so the higher your mortgage, the more you'll pay per point. On the other hand, points can serve as a tax deduction, either immediately or over time. If the points you pay are consistent with what most lenders are charging and you use your loan to buy your primary home, you can typically deduct the entire cost of your points right away. Otherwise, you'll need to spread out that deduction over the life of your loan.

5. Property tax deduction

The average U.S. homeowner pays a little more than $2,000 a year in property taxes, but in some states, that figure can be anywhere from two to five times as much (or more). And while nobody wants to spend a fortune on property taxes, they can serve as a nice tax break. If you're going to claim a property tax deduction, just make certain to do so the year you actually make your payments. Property taxes are often billed quarterly, so it could be that you pay the first part of your 2018 taxes at the end of 2017 -- in which case you'd take the deduction for the 2017 tax year.

6. Home office deduction

If you're self-employed and have a dedicated space in your home that you use for work purposes, you can claim a home office deduction against your income. To calculate your tax benefit, figure out how much you spend annually on costs like water, electricity, internet service, and homeowners' insurance. Next, calculate the amount of space your office takes up relative to your home, and then prorate your expenses to arrive at your deduction. For example, if you spend $3,000 a year on eligible expenses and your office takes up 10% of your home's total square footage, you can claim a $300 deduction.

Whether you're new to homeownership or have carried a mortgage for years, it pays to learn more about the tax deductions available. The more you're able to claim, the more cash you'll manage to pocket and keep away from the IRS.

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