It is true that since President Trump's 2017 tax overhaul was passed, fewer people are able to take advantage of the deduction.
QUESTION: I read your article about the tax advantages of buying a home and was surprised that you listed the mortgage interest deduction as one of the top tax advantages of buying a home. Thanks to the Trump tax cut in 2017, the mortgage interest deduction has pretty much gone away. It’s not as valuable as it used to be. I think you should clarify that.
ANSWER: Actually, the mortgage interest deduction has not gone anywhere. It’s still there and it’s still valuable, although perhaps not to the extent it once was or to as many homeowners.
It is true that since President Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul was passed, fewer people are able to take advantage of the deduction. That is because the tax bill nearly doubled the standard deduction to $24,000 for a couple filing jointly on their federal tax return.
As a result, the larger standard deduction has become a disincentive for many couples to claim individual deductions, such as the mortgage interest deduction. So, even though the mortgage interest deduction is still there, far fewer people are able to claim it.
The drop is quite significant. According to the IRS, about one in five taxpayers used to claim the deduction. Since the tax overhaul, that number has dropped to fewer than 1 in 10 earning less than $100,000.
For higher income people, the tax law did make some changes to the mortgage interest deduction – capping the maximum amount of mortgage debt eligible for the deduction at $750,000 (down from $1 million previously).
The tax law also capped deductions for state and local taxes at $10,000, which has had a particularly dramatic impact in states such as Massachusetts and other east and west coast states where property taxes and real estate values are high.
So even though the Trump tax bill did not mess with the mortgage interest deduction (except at the higher income levels), the result of the tax package has been to greatly reduce its use.
The tax break is still there. Congress did not take it away. It just changed the law in a way that fewer people can take advantage of it. It is still valuable for many taxpayers.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.