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Maximum Mortgage Interest Deduction

Max Mortgage Interest Deduction

The federal tax law doesn’t limit the amount of mortgage interest deduction you can take on your tax return to a specific number. Rather, it limits your deduction to the mortgage interest that accrues on up to $1 million in total mortgage balances on all qualified homes you own.

Before you can identify which mortgage balances to include in the $1 million, it’s important to understand how the IRS defines your qualified homes for purposes of claiming the mortgage interest deduction. You can have up to two qualified homes; the first of which is always your principal residence. Your principal residence is the home where you live for a majority of the tax year, meaning 183 days or more (184 in a leap year). This objective approach eliminates your ability to choose which home to treat as your principal residence. The second qualified home, however, can be any home you choose. For example, if you own three vacation homes, you can choose any one of them to include as a qualified home. This choice is only binding on the current tax year since you are free to choose a different second home to treat as your qualified home in future tax years.

One Million Mortgage Interest Deduction Limitation

Once you choose which homes are your qualified homes, you then add together the outstanding mortgage balances you have on both of them. If the sum exceeds $1 million, you cannot deduct the interest that accrues on the excess. For example, if the mortgage on your principal residence is $600,000 and the mortgage on your vacation home is $500,000; you can deduct all interest payments on the first mortgage, but only the interest that accrues on $400,000 of the second home’s mortgage, or 80 percent. Keep in mind that the interest rate on each mortgage is irrelevant since the only limitation relates to the mortgage balance itself. Moreover, if you take out a home equity loan on one or both of the homes, your deduction for home equity loan interest doesn’t affect your ability to deduct mortgage interest and you don’t include it when applying the $1 million mortgage balance limitation.

Reference: IRS Publication 936-Home Mortgage Interest Deduction