Tax advantages of owning a Gulf Shores home are probably not the number one motivating force behind buying a home. But the tax advantages associated with owning your own home are significant, and may be a factor in your decision to buy a home.
Mortgage Interest Deduction
If you itemize deductions you’re generally able to deduct the interest you pay on debt resulting from a loan used to buy, build, or improve your principal residence, provided that the loan is secured by your Gulf Shores home.
The ability to deduct mortgage interest also generally applies to second homes, though special rules apply if you rent the home out for part of the year. Interest you pay on up to $1 million in mortgage debt ($500,000 if you’re married and file a separate federal income tax return) can qualify for the deduction (different rules may apply if you incurred the debt prior to October 14, 1987).
Interest on qualifying home equity debt of up to $100,000 ($50,000 for married individuals filing separately) is generally deductible regardless of how the loan proceeds are used. If you’re subject to the alternative minimum tax (AMT), the AMT calculation doesn’t allow a deduction for interest on debt that’s not used to buy, build, or improve your Gulf Shores home.
Qualified mortgage insurance premium payments made prior to 2012 can be deducted in the same manner as qualified mortgage interest, provided the mortgage insurance contract is issued after 2006. Congress is debating this tax deductible interest subject, and have been for several years. Each year, the possibility of this valuable deduction evaporating becomes more and more possible.
Could the mortgage interest deduction ultimately be eliminated? That seems unlikely, but elimination or reduction of the deduction has remained part of the ongoing debate, and was included among the recommendations contained in the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s December 2010 report.
Deduction for Property Taxes
If you itemize deductions, in most cases, you can deduct the real estate taxes you pay on your Gulf Shores home in the year you pay them to the taxing authority. If you pay your real estate taxes through an escrow account, you can only deduct the real estate taxes actually paid by your lender from the escrow account during the year. For purposes of calculating the AMT, however, no deduction for state and local taxes, including any real estate tax, is allowed.
Capital Gains on Your Gulf Shores Home
If you sell your Gulf Shores home at a gain, you may be able to exclude some or all of the gain from federal income tax. For the most part, capital gain (or loss) on the sale of your principal residence equals the sale price of the home less your adjusted basis in the property. Your adjusted basis is the cost of the property (i.e., what you paid for it), plus amounts paid for capital improvements, less any depreciation and casualty losses claimed for tax purposes.
If you meet all requirements, you can exclude from federal income tax up to $250,000 ($500,000 if you’re married and file a joint federal income tax return) of any capital gain that results from the sale of your Gulf Shores home. This exclusion can be used only once every two years. To qualify for the exclusion, you must have owned and used the home as your principal residence for a total of two out of the five years before the sale. If you fail the two-out-of-five-year test, you might still be able to exclude part of your gain if your Gulf Shores home sale is due to a change in place of employment, health reasons, or certain other unforeseen circumstances.
Special rules apply in a number of situations, including one in which you maintained a home office for tax purposes or otherwise used your home for business purposes. Special rules may also apply if you are a member of the uniformed services. Check with a tax professional about current laws that may affect the tax advantages of owning a Gulf Shores home.
For more on current tax laws, visit the IRS website.