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Who Can Deduct Mortgage Interest?

Get answers to frequently asked questions about who can deduct mortgage interest on their taxes.

By
Laura Adams, MBA,

 

One of the most confusing tax breaks is the mortgage interest tax deduction. When you’re eligible to deduct mortgage interest but don’t, you leave a lot of money on the table by overpaying taxes. And claiming the deduction when you’re not eligible can get you into trouble with the IRS!

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Who Can Deduct Mortgage Interest?

First, let’s cover the 2 conditions you must meet in order to deduct mortgage interest.

The interest you pay on a mortgage or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for your primary residence or a second home can be deducted from your income when you:

  1. File taxes on Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A.

  2. Have a secured debt on a qualified home in which you have an ownership interest.

Those conditions sound simple, but understanding how they apply to different ownership situations can be somewhat complex.

5 Common Questions About Claiming the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Here are 5 common questions from Money Girl readers and podcast listeners about who can deduct mortgage interest on their taxes:

Question #1: When multiple people buy a home together, who gets to claim the mortgage interest deduction? 

Answer:
Each owner can deduct the amount of interest they pay (if they itemize deductions on Schedule A). So if you own 25% of a home and pay a quarter of the mortgage payment, you can deduct a quarter of the interest. But if you pay the entire mortgage, you’re entitled to claim the full interest amount.

Question #2: I own a home with my partner—but I pay the mortgage. Can I take the full mortgage interest tax deduction?
 
Answer:
Yes, if you’re a legal owner of the home and pay the entire mortgage, you can claim the full amount of mortgage interest if you itemize on Schedule A.

Question #3: I’m married and file taxes jointly, but my wife is the only one listed on our house deed and mortgage. Can I claim the mortgage interest deduction?

Answer:
When you file taxes jointly, you pool both of your income and tax deductions together on one tax return. So you get the tax break as a couple when you file a joint return and itemize deductions on Schedule A.

Question #4: I’m paying my son’s mortgage for him while he’s unemployed. Can I claim the mortgage interest deduction on my taxes?

Answer:
No, you can’t claim the mortgage interest deduction for someone else’s debt unless you are a legal or equitable owner of the property. Just making mortgage payments for a friend or family member doesn’t entitle you to the deduction.

Question #5: I bought a vacation home with my brother and we each pay half the mortgage each month. But my name is the only one listed on Form 1098—does that mean I can claim the entire mortgage interest deduction?

Answer:
No, you can only claim the deduction for the amount of interest you actually paid. Lenders typically send out a mortgage interest statement, which is Form 1098, at the end of the tax year to indicate the total interest paid—not who’s entitled to a deduction.

Taxpayers are responsible for deducting the correct amount of interest paid, regardless of whose name or Social Security number is listed on the form or who receives it in the mail.

Watch the Mortgage Interest FAQ (VIDEO) for more information about this tax break and additional answers to frequently asked questions.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show. 

 

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