This Financial Guide explains when and to what extent points paid on the purchase of a home or on a refinancing are deductible. It explains the rules for deducting points and discusses special circumstances and situations.
Table of Contents
What Are Points?
The term "points" is used to describe certain charges paid, or treated as paid, by a borrower to obtain a home mortgage. Points may also be called loan origination fees, maximum loan charges, loan discount, or discount points.
Points are prepaid interest and may be deductible as home mortgage interest, if you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A. Generally, if you can deduct all of the interest on your mortgage, you may be able to deduct all of the points paid on the mortgage. If your acquisition debt exceeds $1 million or your home equity debt exceeds $100,000, you cannot deduct all the interest on your mortgage and you cannot deduct all your points.
A borrower is treated as paying any points that a home seller pays for the borrower's mortgage. See "Points Paid by Seller," later.
Tests for Deductibility
Generally, you cannot deduct the full amount of points in the year paid. Because they are prepaid interest, you generally must deduct them over the life (term) of the mortgage.
However, you can fully deduct points in the year paid if you meet all of the following tests.
Home improvement loan. You can also fully deduct in the year paid points paid on a loan to improve your main home, if statements (1) through (5) above are true.
Amounts charged by the lender for specific services connected to the loan are not interest. Examples of these charges are:
You cannot deduct these amounts as points either in the year paid or over the life of the mortgage.
Points Paid by Seller
The term "points" includes loan placement fees that the seller pays to the lender to arrange financing for the buyer. The seller cannot deduct these fees as interest. But they are a selling expense that reduces the seller's amount realized. The buyer reduces the basis of the home by the amount of the seller-paid points and treats the points as if he or she had paid them. If all the tests explained earlier are met, the buyer can deduct the points in the year paid. If any of those tests is not met, the buyer deducts the points over the life of the loan.
Funds Provided Are Less than Points
If you meet all the tests referred to earlier; except that the funds you provided were less than the points charged to you (test 9), you can deduct the points in the year paid, up to the amount of funds you provided. In addition, you can deduct any points paid by the seller.
If you meet all the tests except that the points paid were more than generally paid in your area (test 3), you deduct in the year paid only the points that are generally charged. You must spread any additional points over the life of the mortgage.
Points Paid on Second Home
The general rule of instant deductibility does not apply to points you pay on loans secured by your second home. You can deduct these points only over the life of the loan.
Mortgage Ends Early
If you spread your deduction for points over the life of the mortgage, you can deduct any remaining balance in the year the mortgage ends. However, if you refinance the mortgage with the same lender, you cannot deduct any remaining balance of spread points. Instead, deduct the remaining balance over the term of the new loan.
A mortgage may end early due to a prepayment, refinancing, foreclosure, or similar event.
Points Paid on Refinancing
Generally, points you pay to refinance a mortgage are not deductible in full in the year you pay them. This is true even if the new mortgage is secured by your main home.
However, if you use part of the refinanced mortgage proceeds to improve your main home and you meet the first five tests listed earlier; you can fully deduct the part of the points related to the improvement in the year paid. You can deduct the rest of the points over the life of the loan.
Limits on Home Mortgage Interest Affect Points
You cannot fully deduct points paid on a mortgage that exceeds the limits on home mortgages for purposes of the home mortgage interest deduction.
The mortgage interest statement (Form 1098) you receive should show not only the total interest paid during the year, but also your deductible points.
The statement will show the total interest you paid during the year. If you purchased a main home during the year, it also will show the deductible points paid during the year, including seller-paid points. However, it should not show any interest that was paid for you by a government agency.
As a general rule, Form 1098 will include only points that you can fully deduct in the year paid. However, certain points not included on Form 1098 also may be deductible, either in the year paid or over the life of the loan. See the earlier discussion of Points to determine whether you can deduct points not shown on Form 1098.
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