These Are the Tax Breaks You Can Get When You Buy a House

One of the biggest benefits of homeownership is tax breaks. If you’re a homeowner, tax credits and deductions could save you thousands of dollars per year. But are there tax credits for buying a house? And what about deductions?

To help you come next tax season, here are tax credits and deductions you can get when you buy a house, and additional tax breaks that come with homeownership.

— What’s the difference between tax credits and deductions?

— Standard vs. itemized deductions

— Are there tax credits for buying a house?

— What is tax deductible when buying a house?

— Additional tax benefits of homeownership

What’s the Difference Between Tax Credits and Deductions?

Both tax credits and deductions can help a homeowner save money on their tax bill, but they work differently. “Both lower one’s taxes, but a credit applies to the tax owed, while a deduction applies to one’s income that is subject to tax,” says Asher Rubinstein, partner and tax, asset protection and trusts and estates attorney at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey in New York City. “In other words, it’s a matter of timing and when the tax discount is applied.”

There are also refundable and nonrefundable tax credits. According to the IRS, if your tax bill is less than the refundable credit, then you get the difference back in your refund.

Credits are typically much more valuable than deductions. “For example, someone with a $1,000 tax credit in the 20% tax bracket will see their tax bill reduced by $1,000. Someone with a $1,000 tax deduction will only see $200 in tax savings,” explains Eric Presogna, founder and CEO of One-Up Financial and a certified financial planner public accountant.

[Read: The Guide to Making and Accepting an Offer on a Home.]

Standard vs. Itemized Deductions

There are two types of deductions available to all taxpayers: standard deduction and itemized deduction. If you take the standard deduction, you reduce your taxable income by a set amount. For the 2024 tax year, the standard deduction is $14,600 for single filers and $29,200 for married couples filing jointly. “There is no need for the taxpayer to keep records of individual tax deductions if the taxpayer takes the standard deduction,” Rubinstein says. Itemized deductions are individual tax deductions that could potentially add up to more than the standard deduction.

According to Presogna, homeowners should only take the standard deduction when they don’t have enough itemized deductions to exceed the standard. “With the SALT deduction (state, local, real estate taxes) currently limited to $10,000, a married couple would need more than $19,200 in mortgage interest, charitable donations and other qualifying deductions in order to warrant itemizing,” Presogna says.

Are There Tax Credits for Buying a House?

The IRS has specific rules regarding how homebuyers qualify for certain tax credits. There are also credits that are only available to first-time buyers. You generally qualify as a first-time homebuyer if you’re purchasing your first home. However, you may still qualify if you’ve not owned a home for three years prior to the date of purchasing the new home for which the credit is claimed, according to the IRS. That home must be your principal residence.

One federal tax credit available to first-time buyers is through the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program. This program was designed to help lower-income families afford a home. The MCC program allows buyers to claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for a portion of the mortgage interest paid per year, up to $2,000. Eligible individuals must be first-time homebuyers, use the house as their primary residence and meet the program’s income and purchase price requirements.

There may also be tax credits available through your state. These buyer programs vary from state to state. You can research what may be available in your local area or look through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s directory of local homebuying programs.

[Read: How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Mobile Home?]

What Is Tax Deductible When Buying a House?

There are more tax deductions available to homebuyers and homeowners than there are tax credits, but Presogna says it depends on whether you itemize your deductions or take the standard deduction. Regarding homeownership, “If you have enough deductions to itemize, real estate taxes, home equity loan and mortgage interest are some of the larger deductible costs,” Presogna adds.

Keep in mind that not everything is deductible. According to Rubinstein, most costs associated with homeownership do not qualify for any tax benefits, including cosmetic upgrades, homeowners insurance and your mortgage principal, to name a few.

Here are several tax deductions buyers may qualify for after purchasing a home:

First-time homebuyer savings account (FHSA). Some states offer tax benefits to first-time homebuyers to open an FHSA. This is a specific type of savings account that helps first-time buyers save up to $15,000 or $30,000 per year for a down payment, closing costs and other expenses related to their home purchase. You can deduct the annual savings from your state-taxable income, but limits vary by state.

Mortgage interest deduction. This is a deduction for interest paid on mortgage debt, but you will need to itemize your deductions to qualify for this tax break. “Under current law, this applies to loans up to $750,000,” Rubinstein says.

Property tax deduction. Through 2025, taxpayers who itemize their tax deductions can claim a deduction on their federal tax return up to $10,000 each year for local property taxes paid, according to Rubinstein. “When the tax law changed in 2017, this was very controversial, because taxpayers previously had an unlimited deduction,” he says. “The $10,000 limit is significant for taxpayers in high-tax states like New York and California.”

Mortgage points deduction. Per IRS guidelines, mortgage points are fees paid to take out a mortgage. This also includes origination fees or discount points purchased in order to reduce the interest rate.

Home office deduction. “If you’re a business owner or self-employed and work from home, you may be entitled to a deduction for the portion of your home used for business,” Presogna says. However, Rubinstein warns that this is the most audited deduction due to the amount of taxpayers who try to claim this deduction. “The IRS has specific rules to follow. For instance, you can’t work from home for an employer. You have to use a dedicated room and you have to use it regularly. And there are square footage limitations,” Rubinstein explains.

[Read: What Can Small Town America Offer Homebuyers?]

Additional Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Many tax benefits extend beyond the initial purchase of a home. The IRS offers some tax benefits for certain capital improvements, such as renovating your home office, making energy-efficient improvements or making changes due to a medical condition. If you take out a home equity loan to buy, build or improve your home, you could qualify for the home equity loan interest deduction. The IRS would classify the interest you pay on the borrowed funds as home acquisition debt, which may be deductible.

First-time homebuyers could also potentially qualify for a traditional or Roth IRA penalty waiver. If you meet IRS qualifications as a first-time buyer and take out $10,000 or less, you can use those funds toward a down payment without a 10% tax penalty if you close within 120 days. However, the actual withdrawal may still be considered taxable income.

One of the biggest tax breaks for a homeowner is the exclusion of capital gains when they sell their home. Capital gains are the profit from the sale of the home. For married couples, the first $500,000 in capital gains are not subject to tax. For individuals, the first $250,000 in capital gains are not subject to tax. “However, the home has to be used as one’s personal residence for two out of the last five years in order to get this tax break,” Rubinstein says.

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These Are the Tax Breaks You Can Get When You Buy a House originally appeared on

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