IRS Clarifies Home Equity Loan Tax Deductions
By Liz Dominguez
This year's tax season is bringing to light taxpayer confusion surrounding The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which could impact homeowners in next year's tax filing. The IRS is taking steps to clarify what the new provisions mean for the real estate industry and homeowners.
One of the most misunderstood provisions in the new tax law expires in 2026 and prohibits the deduction of interest paid on home equity lines of credit and home equity loans except when the funds are used to substantially improve the taxpayer's home. The IRS recently issued a statement clarifying that the deduction has not been removed, but is instead available under new home improvement restrictions:
"...despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled," according to an IRS release.
Homeowners must continue to meet the requirements of the previous law, which stated the loan must be secured by the taxpayer's main or second residence, and the funds cannot surpass the cost of the home.
National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Elizabeth Mendenhall commended the IRS on its efforts to clarify how homeowners can take advantage of the HELOC tax provision.
"The National Association of REALTORS® is pleased with the IRS announcement clarifying and confirming that under the new tax law owners can continue to deduct the interest on a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage when the proceeds are used to substantially improve their residence," said Mendenhall in a statement. "There has been much confusion on this issue, and the continued deductibility will bring real benefits to those who choose to take on remodeling projects to bring more resale value to their home or gain equity that may have been lost during the downturn."
Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders NAHB), also supported keeping this provision within the new law.
"The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauds [this] announcement by the IRS clarifying that households can take a tax deduction on a home equity loan or home equity line of credit if the loan is used for home improvements," said Noel in a statement. "This is a major victory for re-modelers and for homeowners who want to invest in their homes. NAHB has been pushing hard for this outcome since December, when The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration as they hammer out the details of the new tax law."
As always, it's recommended you consult with your tax attorney or accountant based on your particular situation.