Tax breaks for new homeowners
Congratulations! You’ve become a homeowner. But now that you own a home, you might need to shift the way you think and look at some things, including your taxes and other financial matters.
Owning a home is one of those landmarks that signify financial adulthood. And one of the things that responsible financial adults do is get professional help when the situation requires it. Taxes are one of those areas that often do warrant calling the pros in.
The ultimate aim of using a tax professional is to make sure you get every deduction, credit and other tax advantage for which you qualify, without jacking up your chances at triggering the universally dreaded Internal Revenue Service audit by claiming dubious deductions.
What deductions are available to you, in the event you do decide to itemize your taxes?
1. Mortgage interest deduction. Assuming this home is your personal residence, 100 percent of the mortgage interest you owe and pay before Dec. 31, 2011, is deductible on your 2011 taxes. In January, your mortgage lender will send you a form documenting the precise amount of interest you paid, although most lenders also now make this form immediately available to borrowers online.
Chances are good that you paid some amount of advance interest on your home loan at closing — expect to see that on your statement from your lender, but you should also be able to find it on the HUD-1 settlement statement you received from your escrow agent at closing.
2. Property tax deductions. If this is your personal residence, you should be able to deduct 100 percent of the property taxes you’ve paid to your state and/or local taxing agency this year.
3. Closing-cost deductions. Discount points and origination fees paid to your mortgage lender and/or broker at closing are frequently deductible, but there are rules around this, which tax software and/or professionals can help you make sure you meet. Note that, according to Internal Revenue Service Publication 530, “You cannot deduct transfer taxes and similar taxes and charges on the sale of a personal home.”
There are various home improvements (especially those that increase your home’s energy efficiency), state and local tax credits for buying a foreclosure, and other tax advantages that might be available to you.