Where do your vacation dreams take you? To a mountain cabin, or an oceanfront bungalow hideaway? Wherever your thoughts lead you, it is important to consider that a new vacation home can offer some tax savings. Whether you choose to use the home solely for enjoyment or combine business and pleasure by renting the property part-time, it is important to understand the tax laws for a second home.
As long as the combined debt secured by the vacation home and your principal residence does not exceed $1.1 million, you can deduct all of the interest paid on a mortgage used to buy a second home. This advantage is restricted to two homes. Should you purchase a third, interest on that mortgage is no longer deductible. Regardless of how many homes you decide to own, you may be eligible to deduct all of the property tax paid.
Your vacation home is considered a personal residence if you rent it for no more than 14 days a year. In such a situation, you may retain the rent tax-free without jeopardizing your mortgage interest and tax deductions. However, you may not deduct any rental-related expenses.
If your rental income does not cover the cost of renting the house, you may be able to claim a taxable loss. Rental losses are classified as passive and can be deducted only against passive income, such as that from another rental property that realizes a gain. If you do not have passive income to shelter, the losses have no immediate value; however, unused losses can be used in the future when you have passive income.
If you buy primarily for pleasure but rent for 15 days or more, the rent you receive becomes taxable. Because the house is still considered a personal residence, you may deduct all of the interest and property tax. You may also be able to deduct other rental-related expenses, including the cost of utilities, repairs, and insurance attributable to the time the house is rented. In some cases, you may be able to deduct depreciation. When the house is considered a personal residence, rental deductions cannot exceed the amount of rental income you report. In other words, your second home cannot product a tax loss to shelter other income.
Now consider your tax situation if you buy a property primarily as an investment and limit your personal use of the property to 14 days a year. Because the house is a rental property according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), your deductions can exceed the amount you receive in rental income.
If your vacation home is considered a rental property, the mortgage interest attributable to the time the premises are rented is a business deduction. The remainder cannot be deducted as home mortgage interest since the house doesn't qualify as a personal residence.
These tax laws also apply to apartments, condominiums, mobile homes, or boats with basic living accommodations. Generally, these are considered rental properties if they include a sleeping space, bathroom, and cooking facilities. If you are considering the purchase of a vacation home, keep in mind that, from a tax perspective, that mountain cabin or oceanfront bungalow may be the ultimate dream home.