Tax Breaks

How Can I Deduct Home-Equity Interest Under the New Tax Law?

Still want to tap your home equity and deduct the interest? Options remain.

Note: The editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the Kiplinger Tax Letter are answering questions about the new tax law from subscribers to our free Kiplinger Today daily email. See other reader Q&As about the new tax law, or submit your own question.

Question: I understand that the new tax law eliminates the deduction of interest on home-equity loans. But, will there be an exception if the loan is used to improve a home, such as remodeling or building an addition?

Answer: Yes. As in the past, home-equity loan proceeds used to substantially improve a home are considered acquisition indebtedness, so the debt falls under the rules that permit interest on up to $750,000 of such debt to be deducted. For debt secured by a first or second home and incurred before December 15, 2017, interest on up to $1 million can be deducted. The $750,000 cap applies to debt incurred after December 14.

Under the old law, interest on home-equity debt that did not qualify as acquisition indebtedness (because it was used for purposes other than to buy, build or improve a first or second home) could be deducted. That’s the write-off Congress abolished, starting in 2018, for both new and old loans.

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