If you paid interest on a mortgage loan on your home, you can claim a deduction from the Internal Revenue Service when you file your taxes. Your mortgage lender will file IRS Form 1098 and send you a copy, and you can enter the information from the form into your tax prep app, bring it to your tax preparer or include it with your return if you file on paper. You must itemize your deductions to file for the mortgage interest deduction.
Understanding the Mortgage Interest Deduction
In the United States, interest you pay on a mortgage on your home is deductible from your taxable income when you file your taxes. Generally, if you're single or if you're married and filing jointly, you can claim interest on up to $750,000 in mortgage debt, while married people filing separately can claim interest on up to $375,000.
Those numbers are down from $1,000,000 and $500,000, respectively, for tax years prior to 2018 (that is, with taxes paid prior to 2019), although people with mortgages taken out before Dec. 16, 2017, can still claim the higher amounts. Special rules apply for people who were in the process of buying a home on that transition date, so check the IRS rules if you're not sure which limit applies to you.
The debt needs to be on a mortgage loan or a legally similar loan backed by your home. You can't claim the deduction for other types of debt, such as credit card debt or debt on a personal loan, even if you used the money for something related to your home. Student loans are another exception, since you generally can claim at least some interest on them when you file your taxes.
Claim With Form 1098
You should receive a copy of Form 1098 from each mortgage lender with which you have a mortgage on your home and to which you paid at least $600 in interest. If you don't get a copy of the form in the mail and tax filing time is approaching, see if it's available online. If not, call the lender and request a copy. If you're still having trouble, you can contact the IRS for help.
When you do receive the form, verify that the information on it matches your records. If everything looks in order, enter the information from the form onto Schedule A to IRS Form 1040, the main personal income tax form, in accordance with the form's instructions. If you use a tax prep program, it will usually prompt you for information from the form. If you work with a tax preparer, bring the preparer your form or digitally send a copy.
Itemize Your Deductions
To claim the mortgage interest deduction, you must itemize your deductions on your tax return rather than take the standard deduction. If you only paid a small amount of mortgage interest during a tax year and don't have many other itemized deductions, such as charitable donations, it can potentially make more sense to take the standard deduction.
As of tax year 2019, with returns filed in 2020, the standard deduction is $12,200 for single filers and married people filing separately, $24,400 for married couples filing jointly and $18,350 for those filing as head of household. Those numbers are up from $12,000, $24,000 and $18,000 for the 2018 tax year.
It's often worth computing your itemized deductions and seeing if the standard deduction is greater, then filing whichever way saves you more money in taxes. A tax preparer or tax prep software can do this for you, or you can do it yourself with paper tax forms.
- If the sum of all Schedule A deductions is less than your standard deduction amount (the regular deduction amount for your filing status), do not claim Form 1098 on your return unless you're claiming the income from an interest over-payment refund shown in Box 3.
- If you use more than $100,000, or $50,000 if single or married filing separately, of your loan proceeds for anything other than to buy, repair or improve your home, or if you used loan proceeds for home-related expenses and your total mortgage is more than $1 million, your Schedule A deduction may be limited. See IRS Publication 936 for details.
Steven Melendez is an independent journalist with a background in technology and business. He has written for a variety of business publications including Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Innovation Leader and Ad Age. He was awarded the Knight Foundation scholarship to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.