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Is Interest Expense on a Vacation Home Tax Deductible?

The IRS gives taxpayers incentive to purchase a home by allowing them to deduct mortgage interest. The mortgage interest deduction is always available on loans for your main home. But in addition, you can choose a second home, such as your vacation retreat, to take an interest deduction on.

Mortgage Interest on Vacation Homes

For purposes of assessing your eligibility for the mortgage interest deduction, the federal government limits the deduction to mortgages for your qualified homes. Qualified homes cover your main residence, which is where you live for a majority of the year, and an additional home you use for personal purposes. To classify a residence as your qualified home, mortgage proceeds must be used to buy, build or substantially improve the home. In addition, the bank must hold a security interest in your home as collateral for getting paid back. As a result, interest payments made to a credit card that you used to subsidize the home’s purchase, construction or for home improvements aren’t eligible for inclusion in your mortgage interest deduction.

Vacation Homes for Personal Use

If you select a vacation home to be your second qualified home, the IRS requires that it be used for personal purposes and not as an investment property or rental. Despite this restriction, renting the vacation home for one or two weeks during the year will not render it ineligible for the mortgage interest deduction.

Maximum Mortgage Interest Deduction

The IRS also limits the amount of mortgage interest you can deduct each year. Regardless of the APR your mortgage lender charges, only interest on a maximum of $1 million in combined mortgage balances qualify. For example, suppose the mortgage balances on your main home is $300,000 and the balance on your vacation home loan is $800,000. In this case, only the interest that accrues on $700,000 of the second home’s mortgage deductible.

Itemize Vacation Home Interest

The final requirement for deducting mortgage interest is that you itemize deductions on Schedule A instead of taking the standard deduction. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t increase it by your mortgage interest – it’s one or the other. In most cases, you can save more in tax by itemizing if the total expenses reported on Schedule A, inclusive of the interest on your two qualified homes, exceed the standard deduction amount for your filing status.

Reference: IRS Publication 936-Home Mortgage Interest Deduction