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Is Home Equity Loan Interest Tax Deductible?

Woman researching are home equity loans tax deductible

The interest on home equity loans cannot be deducted for tax purposes if the proceeds were not used to buy, build or substantially improve your home. This is true immaterial of when the loan was taken. 

1. Higher standard deduction means fewer reasons to itemize

The standard deduction has increased to $25,100 for married joint filers and  $12,550 for singles.  For most people, the standard deduction will give  a better break than if they itemize. 

2.Rules on deducting home equity loan interest

If you take out a loan to serve multiple purposes, only the portion used for remodeling or upgrading your home can be deducted. So, for instance, if you paid for medical expenses or a cruise, you can no longer deduct the interest on that debt.

3.Maximum allowances for mortgage loan interest deductions

 Beginning 2018, married couples filing jointly can only deduct home loan interest up to a new maximum allowance of $750,000 (previously $1 million). (Most homeowners’ mortgages fall under this threshold, but it’s important to note that the limit also includes the combined total of loans used to acquire, build or improve your main home and a second home.)

Woman calculating her home equity loan interest deduction

Probably the biggest change in the tax code has to do with home equity

If you have been deducting interest on debt over $750,000 and your loan(s) came about on or before December 15, 2017, ‘grandfathering’ rules can apply. Contact your tax professional about the specific details of your situation to determine how much debt qualifies for the interest deduction.

4.Limits on deductions from state and local property taxes

Starting with your 2018 return, you can no longer deduct more than $10,000 for state and local property taxes (SALT) combined.

5. Selling your home will be affected by updates to capital gains rules

The IRS grants an exclusion on real-estate capital gains up to $500,000 for married couples filing jointly, and $250,000 for singles (or couples filing separately). However, you must have lived in the home for at least two of the last five years prior to its sale. For example, if you bought a home a few years back for $300,000 and sold it today for $900,000, you’d make a $600,000 profit. So if you’re married and filing jointly, as little as $100,000 of your gain could be subject to tax.

Are private mortgage insurance (PMI) payments tax deductible?

Homeowners that did not pay 20% or more against their home’s mortgage will typically be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This additional monthly PMI payment allowed to be fully tax deductible for homeowners under maximum gross income requirements (the deduction begins to phase out quickly with adjusted gross income over $100,000 for married couples filing jointly).  

You may have heard that the law that allowed for this deduction expired in 2017. Thankfully, Congress re-introduced the deduction with the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020  and signed the legislation into law Dec 20, 2019 making this deduction available for eligible homeowners this year and retroactively to 2018.

Your next steps

Be sure to speak with a financial adviser and tax professional about the  tax law  and how they affect you. While some borrowers will not realize a tax deduction, home equity loans offer low rates may still make them an attractive lending option. Also take a look at the Discover® Home Loans calculators page as you consider the next steps in your financial journey.


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