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Breaking Down the Tax Plan: 5 Points to Consider

Breaking Down the Tax Plan 5 Points to Consider

With the passage of the tax bill and its immediate implementation, there has been a lot of confusion. To help clear up that haze, below is six quick summaries of points that directly affect housing. While these points are based on the facts of the tax plan itself, the interpretation of how this will help – or hurt – is entirely up to you.

  • Capital gain exclusion is left unchanged. This was one of the larger debates of the tax plan, and many are happy to see it left unchanged. Why? Well, the capital gain is the difference between the price you paid for a house and the price at which you sold it. This gain is typically treated as taxable income.

That said, depending on how long you owned the house, you may be able to exclude up to $500,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing separately) of that. Therefore, you could avoid paying federal income tax on up to $500,000 of that profit. This provision has remained, and homeowners are just required to have used it as a primary residence for two of the five years before the date of sale.

  • Mortgage interest deduction now capped at $750,000 instead of $1 million. This means that if you buy or have bought a home after December 15, 2017, and if the interest you pay on that mortgage is at or below $750,000, you can deduct that on your taxes. For those buying a home in which they’ll have to pay $850,000 or $1 million of interest on their mortgage, they will no longer be able to deduct all $1 million of that.

  • SALT – State and Local Tax – Property tax deduction is limited to $10,000. Again, this is limiting the amount that homeowners – particularly those paying heavy taxes – can deduct. While the current tax bill allows individuals to deduct the total amount of property taxes, the current bill will only allow homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes. In states where property taxes are higher, like Massachusetts, this will have a larger impact on homeowners, as they will not be able to deduct as much as they used to.

  • Home equity deduction is eliminated. Currently, you are able to deduct interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt. Under the new tax plan, effective come 2018, you will not be able to deduct any interest on home equity debt. This eliminated deduction will have a large impact on individuals who need to borrow money for tuition or other reasons besides buying, building or improving a home beyond what’s necessary. This makes borrowing from a home equity line of credit less appealing, as the interest paid on it will no longer be tax-deductible.

  • Moving expenses deduction is removed. Typically, when filing your taxes, you are asked if you moved in the past year, and, if so, what your expenses were. Even if you did not itemize and track those costs, you had the opportunity to deduct some moving expenses from your taxes. This is not the case anymore. Only active duty members of the armed forces are able to deduct such expenses.

Of course, the exact impact that these different points will have on you as an individual will vary depending on so many factors, from your marital status, to the deductions you take advantage of, to your income and employment type (small business owner vs. student vs. employee). For most, the exact effects of this bill will not truly be felt until 2018 tax returns are filed. But in the meantime, continue to read up; considering how this bill can hurt or help you can help you plan ahead of your filing in the spring of 2019.