Commentary Mortgage Tax Reform - Print



What Does Tax Reform Mean for Homeowners? (Part One of commentary series on tax reform)

Ushering in the greatest change to the tax code since the 1980s will keep most tax professionals busy over the next few years now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs bill has been signed into law. In this commentary, Commerce Trust Company Private Client Advisor Andy Hoffman, CFP ® , puts the spotlight on the mortgage deduction and how it may affect you and your family. Q. WHAT SPECIFICALLY DOES THE NEW TAX REFORM BILL MEAN FOR HOMEOWNERS? A. The president signed into law the tax reform bill in late December, and it contains provisions that could be broad-reaching in scope for taxpayers at many levels. Among the changes are several impacts for homeowners. With $448 billion in home equity loans outstanding at the start of 2017 and $13 trillion in mortgages outstanding, 1 many home-owners will be affected. Q. I AM THINKING ABOUT PURCHASING A NEW HOME IN 2018. WILL THE INTEREST ON THE MORTGAGE STILL BE DEDUCTIBLE? A. It depends on the amount of the mortgage. Interest associated with loans up to $750,000 is still deductible. Q. WHAT IF I PURCHASED A HOME IN 2017 WITH A MORTGAGE OF $1 MILLION? WILL I NOT BE ABLE TO FULLY DEDUCT THE INTEREST SINCE IT IS ABOVE THE NEW LIMIT OF $750,000? A. Mortgages incurred before December 15, 2017 will remain fully deductible up to the prior limit of $1 million. The new limit only applies to mortgages incurred after this date. Q. I PURCHASED A CAR USING MY HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT. CAN I STILL DEDUCT THE INTEREST INCURRED ON THIS LOAN? A. No, the new law eliminates the deductibility of this interest. If the line of credit is used to assist in acquiring a home or used to substantially improve a residence, the interest would be deductible, assuming the total acquisition debt is below the new limit of $750,000. Q. DOES IT STILL MAKE SENSE TO UTILIZE A HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT? SHOULD I TRY TO PAY DOWN MY BALANCE? A. It depends on each person’s individual situation. For most people, accessing the equity in their home is still going to be the cheapest form of financing. Even without the tax deductibility, the interest rates associated with these loans are still typically lower than the average credit card. If the home equity line has a variable interest rate, it is important to monitor the fluctuations. If the interest rate begins to rise, it might make sense to accelerate the payments.

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