How the 2018 Tax Bill Effects Homeowners and Buyers

Published on February 15, 2018 by Seven Gables • In Community Market Trends Real Estate

Somehow it’s already February and January first flew by before our eyes. The tax bill has been and still is a hot topic for real estate investors, homeowners, buyers and just about everyone involved in our industry. We’ve taken the time to break it down to make it simple for you. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act from Washington can be hard to understand, here’s what it means for homeowners.

1. MORTGAGE INTEREST

Today borrowers can deduct interest paid on a mortgage amount up to $1 million. The bill limits the amount of interest paid on a mortgage amount up to $750,000 for loans after December 15, 2017. So how does this play out mathematically?

For example, if you have a $500,000 30-year fixed mortgage with a 3.75% interest rate, you’re paying about $18,750 per year in interest, and you could subtract the $18,750 from your taxable income and pay tax on the new lower amount of income.

Alternatively, if you were to obtain a new $850,000 30-year fixed mortgage with a 3.75% interest rate, you’re paying about $31,875 per year in interest. With the new bill, you could only subtract $28,125, since that would be the amount of interest you’d pay for the same loan, but maxed at the new cap of $750,000.

In higher cost areas where larger loan amounts are more common, this may change a taxpayer’s decision to itemize or not. With the standard deduction increasing to $12,000 for individuals, $18,000 for heads of households, and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly, many homeowners may find it is more beneficial to use the standard deduction as opposed to itemizing line after line.

2. PROPERTY TAXES

Today homeowners get to deduct all property taxes they pay when filing their taxes each year. The bill caps this deduction at $10,000. Let’s pretend you put 20% down when you got the $500,000 loan in the example above. This means you bought the home for $625,000, making your estimated annual taxes about $7,812.

In this scenario, you’d still get to deduct the full $7,812 (since it’s less than $10,000). For homes in higher priced markets, the cap of $10,000 will remain, so if you’re concerned about what this means if you buy a home, we can help you analyze your options.

3. CAPITAL GAINS

Today homeowners are exempt from paying capital gains taxes on gains up to $250,000 (or up to $500,000 for married couples) when selling a primary residence. If you lived in the home two of the last five years, this means you’d pocket home appreciation up to $250,000 (or up to $500,000 if you’re married) tax free when you sold your home and then pay capital gains taxes on any appreciation above this amount—the calculation is a bit more complex, but this is the gist. Earlier tax reform proposals would have increased the threshold, but this bill keeps the two-year minimum so many homeowners who may want to sell can still receive this benefit.