Home Deductions, Expenses, Improvements

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Deductions

For the given tax year, the easiest and most accurate way to determine if any of your home expenses are tax deductible is to start a free tax return on eFile.com or use the 2020 Tax Calculator.

For planning purposes review the home-related expenses you can or cannot claim on your 2020 Tax Return if you itemize your deductions below. In the adjusted home cost basis section below you will see how your could get an indirect tax deduction when you sell your home, not in the year the improvement expense occurred. 

Home Expense
Can You Claim it?
Fire, flood, or homeowner insurance payments
No
Amounts paid to reduce your mortgage principal
No
General home improvements, repairs, maintenance expenses
No (however see more information about this below)
No (unless you are active duty military)
No (unless you are in a federally declared disaster area)
No (unless you are a self-employed business owner)

Price or Basis Cost Change of your Home

A home improvement that increases your home basis cost can be considered an indirect tax deduction. Even though you might not be able to enjoy a write off or tax deduction for the tax year the expense for a home improvement occurred, the following factor should be considered. Regardless whether you purchased or constructed your home, the cost (including settlement, closing costs) of that home is consider the basis cost: actual amount you paid for it, including any debt you assume.

  • If you owned and lived in the home for two of the five years before you sold it and your filing status is Single, then up to $250,000 of the profit is tax-free, in other words no capital gains taxes. If you are married and file a joint return, the tax-free amount doubles to $500,000. You can exclude this amount from your taxable income. You cannot exclude the income if you already excluded income from another home sale in the 2 years before the sale of this home.

While you own your home, improvements etc. may take place that could change the original basis of your home. These improvements can either increase or decrease your original basis, and as a result you will have an adjusted basis.

Exception - Improvement versus Repair: A home repair (painting, gutter or floor repairs, repairing leaks, replacing existing or broken windows, doors, walls, etc.) keeps a home or maintains it in the original operating condition, thus they do not add to the value of your home. As a result you can not add them to the basis cost of your home. On the other hand repairs that are done as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration of your home are considered improvements and can be added to the basis cost of the home. Learn more here about Homeowners and Taxes.

If you have more questions about this contact one of the eFile.com Taxperts.

Adjusted Cost Basis

Home Cost Basis Increases
Additions
Bathroom, Bedroom, Deck, Garage, Porch, Patio, Storage, Fireplace, etc.
Heating & Air
Heating System, Central, Air Conditioning, Furnace, Duct work, Central humidifier, Filtration system, etc.
Lighting
Wiring Upgrades, Lighting Fixtures, Other
Plumbing
Water Heater, Soft water system, Filtration system, Other
Insulation
Attic, Walls, Floors, Pipes and duct work, etc.
Lawn & Garden
Landscaping, Walkway, Driveway, Fences, Retaining wall, Sprinkler system, Exterior lighting, Swimming Pool, etc.
Interior Improvements
Built-in appliances, Kitchen or Bathroom modernization, Flooring, Wall-to-wall carpeting, Other
Communication, Security
Satellite dish, Intercom, Security system, Home Network, Other
Miscellaneous Improvements
Property Damage Repair, Storm windows and doors, Roof, Central vacuum, Other
Home Cost Basis Decreases
Insurance
Insurance or other reimbursement for casualty losses. Deductible casualty loss not covered by insurance.
Depreciation
Depreciation allowed or allowable if home is used for business or rental purposes.
Subsidy
Value of subsidy for energy conservation measure excluded from income

Keeping Records of Home Improvement Expenses

Use this Home Improvement Chart to keep track of your improvement expenses during the time you owned the home up until you sell the home. Up until the sale of your home, you can not deduct these expenses on your annual tax returns.

Home Improvement Expense Chart

In summary, any home improvement costs can add up over the years, so it is important you keep records for each year just in case. If you deducted the sales taxes on the construction or purchase price of your home as an itemized deduction on Schedule A, you can't include these sales taxes as part of your cost basis in the home.

Other Tax Breaks

See tax deductions and tax credits you may qualify to claim on your tax return.

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