April 2013 Blogs

4 Real Estate Moves with Surprise Tax Implications:

It’s no surprise that owning a home automatically opts you into a new realm of tax advantages. In fact, in a recent survey of people who bought homes in 2012, 79 percent said the mortgage interest and property tax deductions were "extremely important" factors to their decision to become homeowners in the first place.

But these two deductions are just the tip of the iceberg of all the real estate-related tax guidelines, advantages and disadvantages.  Because others get less press, it can be relatively easy for an individual American taxpayer to unwittingly trigger tax liabilities they might have been able to minimize or plan for, or to unwittingly trigger tax perks and fail to claim them.

This is why its essential to touch base with your tax pro before any and every real estate move you make, no matter how minor you think it might be. Sometimes planning and timing makes a major difference to the financial impact of a real estate-related tax; other times, just knowing the size and scope of the tax implications will impact the real estate decision you make.

Here is a short list of real estate moves that trigger surprising tax issues, pro and con:

1.  Refinancing.  American homeowners have been on a refinancing spree this year, spurred by continually low interest rates and a new resurgence in home values and equity. When you refinance into a lower interest rate mortgage than you previously had, the focus tends to be on the fact that your monthly payment is lower or that you can pay your home loan off faster with the same payment every month.

What many fail to calculate for is that the tax deduction based on your mortgage interest is the largest tax perk of home ownership. Most homeowners are eligible to deduct 100% of the interest they pay on a mortgage up to $1 million on their primary residence.  So, if you reduce the interest you pay, you also reduce your mortgage interest deduction.

Here’s some perspective on this.  Less than 30 percent of homeowners take their mortgage interest deduction every year. This is thought to be because at lower income and home price levels, the standard deduction is higher than the itemized deductions for which many homeowners would be eligible. That said, if you do itemize every year and/or you have a relatively high (or growing) adjusted gross income, you might be surprised at your tax bill the year after you refinance to a lower interest rate.

The best practice is to loop your tax professional in so they can help you plan for this and adjust your withholdings, if necessary, to avoid big surprise tax bills post-refi.

2.  Becoming a landlord.  Smart real estate investors get up to speed on capital gains tax laws, as its no surprise that selling a rental property at a profit triggers taxes, unless you exchange it for another. What’s trickier is when you become a more or less “accidental landlord.”  It’s not obvious to people who are renting out a room for a few nights here or there, or who decide to rent out part or all of their own home for the longer term (e.g., deciding to hold onto your starter home when you move up, versus selling it) that there are tax implications for being a landlord that should be researched and respected.

For example, rental income is subject to all the regular income taxes, federal and state (if applicable).  As well, in some cities, you might also be required to obtain a business license and pay business taxes, as a landlord.  Additionally, some municipalities are cracking down and requiring people who rent their home or portions of it for very short time frames to pay hotel taxes, which might be a cost you can pass down to your short-stay tenants.

3.  Remodeling.  The conventional wisdom is that when you remodel your home, whatever you do, for the love of all that is sacred, save your receipts. And this is not a ‘save them until tax time’ recommendation, it’s a ‘save them until you sell the place’ mandate!  The money you invest into improving your home over time gets added to your purchase price, or cost basis, when you sell, bringing down the amount the IRS considers to be profit or gain and reducing your chances of incurring capital gains tax. (Single home owners can realize $250,000 of “gains” above the cost basis of their home tax-free; marrieds, $500,000.)

This is no surprise to most homeowners.

Here’s where many of us do get surprised - many remodeling projects popular with homeowners these days trigger local and state tax credits. This is especially the case for home improvements that increase your home’s efficiency, from low-flow toilets and shower heads, to dual-paned windows and insulation - even solar systems and tankless water heaters. If you are remodeling and improving your home’s efficiency at the same time, visit your state, county and city websites to see what tax credits or other financial incentives you might qualify for.

And whether or not your remodeling projects are eco-friendly, if you use a home equity line to finance them, chances are good that you can deduct the interest from that loan (up to $100,000) on top of your home mortgage interest deduction.  Again, don’t forget to mention this to your tax professional.

4.  Renting.  Here’s the thing - most of us just don’t think about renting as an intentional decision.  It’s something many people do until they can afford to buy a home, or know where their career will take them geographically speaking.  But there are people out there who have sufficient income, assets and stability to own a home, yet haven’t developed any sense of urgency around it, for various reasons.

I don’t believe in suggesting that someone who truly doesn’t want to own a home should do so, simply for tax reasons.  But if you’ve been ambivalent about it or have been thinking about it and procrastinating, you should at least be aware of the tax implications of your fence-sitting. Some personal finance experts estimate that the average American renter works through the end of April just to earn enough income to pay taxes, federal, state, local and sales.  As you move up the income ranks, consult with your tax professional about whether home ownership might get you some tax relief.




CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME PAGE

MLSLincolnWestonRealty

BUYING ADVANTAGES

  • Approximately 45,000 Mass. Listings!
  • Prompt Online Showing Requests
  • Most Professional Buyer Representation
  • Top-Notch Agents to Serve You
  • Over 30 Years Experience
  • Easy Click for Showing
  • Virtual Drive Around the Neighborhood
  • Spectacular Map Search
  • View All Property Listing Specs!

MLSLincolnWestonRealty

SELLING ADVANTAGES

  • Professional, Experienced Sales Force!
  • World-Wide, On-Line Exposure
  • Expert Real Estate Resources
  • Unmatched Property Valuation Methods
  • Specialized High-End Property Services
  • NO FEES unless we are successful
  • State-of-the-Art Marketing Strategies
  • We have the Most Important Selling Tips
  • We Respect your needs: Timing and Price

FEATURED INFORMATION

MLSLincolnWestonRealty BLOGS Provide the Best Real Estate Information & Advice Anywhere!

Homes for Sale In Lincoln MA

With previous property ownership and devel- opment experience in Lincoln, Mass., MLSLincolnWestonRealty possesses the direct knowledge and skills to help you thoroughly understand the real estate climate in Lincoln, MA, make the right decisions, and buy or sell a home with confidence. Our buyer or seller representation is unsurpassed anywhere in the State. With a limited inven- tory of homes for sale in Lincoln, MA, you need the best advice possible. Please contact us during our extended hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week.

Boston and Vicinity

Whether it's homes for sale in Lincoln, Mass., homes for sale Weston, Mass. or anywhere else in the Boston, Massachusetts area, MLSLincolnWestonRealty is devoted to being the best real estate brokerage firm anywhere in Massachusetts. Our techno- logical sophistication and innovations, over thirty years experience in sales, property management, development, renting and leas- ing in both residential and commercial/ industrial real estate are just some of the reasons you simply must give us a try. You'll be very glad you did!  CALL US TODAY!

Homes for Sale In Weston MA

In this dynamic and exclusive market MLSLincolnWestonRealty offers the most powerful tools, professional service and invaluable expertise to find the right home for you if you are shopping for houses for sale in Weston, MA. Our extensive experience within the Weston, Mass. real estate market makes us the best choice for marketing your house for sale in Weston, Massachusetts Our extended hours and passion for our work are only some of the reasons we will do a better job for you than any other real estate broker out there.

Scope of Services

MLSLincolnWestonRealty provides expert real estate and relocation services for residential real estate, single-family homes, high-end luxury homes, condominiums, multi-family homes, rental properties, mobile homes, commercial/industrial real estate, land, business opportunities, and much more with special emphasis in Weston, Lincoln, Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Lexington, Wayland, Sudbury, Concord, Cambridge, Boston, Belmont, Sherborn, Dover, Needham, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Hopkinton, Holliston, Hyannis, Falmouth, Cape Cod, Cape Ann, Metro West, North Shore, South Shore and all other surrounding greater Boston and Massachusetts communities. MLSLincolnWestonRealty can also assist buyers and sellers with their specific real estate needs throughout the entire State of Massachusetts. We are the premier luxury residential real estate brokerage firm.

With an Exclusive Buyer Agency relationship, MLSLincolnWestonRealty provides our loyal and dedicated home buyers with the absolute best tools, resources, services, skills and expertise to provide them with tremendous savings and great satisfaction with their real estate purchases. Finding the right home and making the right home purchase are not always easy, but with MLSLincolnWestonRealty at your side every step of the way your chances of success with buying the right home in Massachusetts will increase exponentially.

As a highly skilled listing real estate agency, MLSLincolnWestonRealty provides our home sellers and other clientele with unparalleled knowledge, marketing programs and hard work to succeed with the sale of real estate in Massachusetts. This turn-key real estate power-house will enable you, the seller, to obtain a premium market price for the sale of your real property in the least time possible.
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING TOPICS and AREAS: Homes for sale in Lincoln MASS., Homes for sale in Weston MASS., Weston MASS. Homes for Sale, Lincoln MASS. Homes for Sale, Boston Mass. Homes for Sale, Weston MASS. Real Estate, Lincoln MASS. real estate, Boston Mass. Real Estate, Massachusetts real estate listings, Massachusetts Real Estate Agent, Boston, Mass. Real Estate, MLSLincolnWestonRealty, MLS, Lincoln MASS., Concord MASS., open houses, school and community info, agents, offices, realtors, MLS listings, properties, home search, residential, land, adult community, mortgage, pre-approval, interest rates, relocation, moving, MA, Online Home Search, Find Homes Online, Mass Real Estate, Boston Homes, Cambridge, Mass. Real Estate, Massachusetts Real Estate, Massachusetts Homes PETER GOTTLIEB, BROKER/AGENT
(781) 235-7727