The rules for deducting qualified residential interest (the interest on your home mortgage) have changed.
Prior to the 2018 start of the new Tax Act, interest up to $1 million of mortgage debt used to acquire your primary residence and a second home was considered deductible ($500,000 each for married taxpayers filing separately). You could also deduct interest on home equity debt (other debt secured by qualified homes). Qualifying home equity debt was limited to the lesser of $100,000 ($50,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately), or the taxpayer’s equity in the home or homes (the excess of the value of the home over the acquisition debt). The funds obtained via a home equity loan did not have to be used to acquire or improve the home. So you could use home equity debt to pay for education, travel health care, etc.
Under the Act, the limit on qualifying acquisition debt is reduced to $750,000, or $375,000 each for married taxpayers filing separately. However, for acquisition debt incurred before Dec 15, 2017, the higher pre-Act limit applies. The higher pre-Act limit also applies to debt arising from refinancing pre-Dec. 15, 2017 acquisition debt, to the extent the debt resulting from the refinancing does not exceed the original debt amount.
This means you can refinance up to $1 million of pre-Dec 15, 2017 acquisition debt in the future and not be subject to the reduced limitation.
IMPORTANT: Starting in 2018, there is no longer a deduction for interest on hom equity debt. This applies regardless of when the home equity debt was incurred. Accordingly, if you are considering incurring home equity debt in the future, you should take this factor into consideration. And if you currently have outstanding home equity debt, be prepared to lose the interest deduction for it, starting 2018. (You will still be able to deduct it on your 2017 tax return, filing in 2018).
Lastly, both of these changes last for eight years – through 2025. In 2026, the pre-Act rules are scheduled to come back into effect. So beginning in 2026, interest on home equity loans will be deductible again, and the limit on qualifying acquisition debt will be raised back to $1 million ($500,000 for married separate filers).
Please call us if you would like to discuss how these changes affect your particular situation, and any planning moves you should consider in light of them, please.