Any updated thoughts on the new tax legislation?
The new tax legislation seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, and seems to be crowding out Christmas cheer a bit. While I do need to advise you to consult your personal tax accountant, I will tell you I have been busy prepaying my 2018 property taxes. Under the new legislation, taxpayers will only be able to deduct a grand total of $10,000 of property and income taxes combined. In our area, property taxes are higher than in many parts of the country, so many people will easily exceed that limit. Paying 2018 property taxes in 2017 helps to insure the full value of their deductibility. Of course, 2018 tax bills have not been issued yet, but if you find your 2017 bills and make a couple of calls, they will be able to tell you how to proceed if this interests you. The taxing bodies are likely thrilled right now with the new legislation – rather than chasing late payers they are receiving their money well ahead of schedule! Of course, if your bank escrows your taxes for you, this may not be an option you can take advantage of.
I’ve also taken the time to pay my 2017 4th quarter Pennsylvania and local income taxes now, for the same reason. While not due until January 15th, the $10,000 limit on the deductibility of property taxes and state/local income taxes combined will result in lost deductions for many. This tax planning is only useful right now, when the old limits (or lack thereof) still apply through 2017.
As far as the legislation itself, I am pleased that congress raised the mortgage deductibility limit to interest on mortgage debt up to $750,000. Interest on debt on second homes is no longer deductible (unless you use it as an investment property, in which case it can offset your rental income), and interest on home equity lines of credit will no longer be deductible. This will definitely affect the way consumers choose to structure their home buying financing. We will be thoroughly digesting the bill so that we can help consumers make the best financing decisions to take advantage of the tax breaks we do have left.
The $10,000 limit on the deductibility of property and state/local income taxes is not ideal, particularly because of the higher property taxes we have in the region. There is a possibility that the limitation will make higher end homes harder to sell, but I doubt that. In the end, consumers will have to have a mindshift and think less of their personal residences as tax breaks and see them for what they really are – a home for their family to come home to every day – their personal sanctuary from what can sometimes feel like a crazy world. And when we see our homes that way, the small piece of our property taxes that Uncle Sam no longer “pays” will seem far less important than it does in the abstract.
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