Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting looks at the popularity of home improvements during the COVID-19 pandemic and the tax issues to consider.
Why: The tax law in several respects encourages home improvements with tax breaks. However, there have also been some changes in the law in recent years that could catch some home remodelers by surprise.
- There is a $500 lifetime credit for energy-efficient improvements to a home, including exterior doors and windows, insulation, roofs, certain furnaces and fans, air conditioners, water heaters, and heat pumps. However, many homeowners may have already used up this lifetime credit in past years, and the credit currently expires at the end of 2020
- There is a credit for installation of qualified solar electric property, qualified solar water heating property, qualified fuel cell property, qualified small wind energy property, and geothermal heat pump property. The credit is 26 percent of the cost in 2020 and 22 percent of the cost in 2021
- Many states also have tax breaks for energy-efficient home improvements in the form of income tax credits, sales tax exemptions, or property tax incentives
- While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated itemized deduction for interest on home equity loans, this interest may still be deductible to the extent that the moneys were spent to improve a home
- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also eliminated the itemized deduction for an employee’s unreimbursed business expenses, so an employee’s unreimbursed home office expenses are no longer deductible. A self-employed person may still be able to deduct those expenses
- Employees are not taxed on expenses that are reimbursed by employers under an accountable reimbursement plan. A handful of states require employers to reimburse employees for necessary business expenses
- Some home improvements may qualify for an itemized medical expense deduction if the improvements are prescribed by a physician for the treatment of a disease or disability and to the extent that the cost exceeds any increase in the value of the home
- The medical expense deduction threshold, which remains at 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) on 2020 tax returns, under current law reverts to 10 percent of AGI for 2021 tax returns
Contact: To arrange an interview with Mark Luscombe or other federal and state tax experts from Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting on this or any other tax-related topics, please contact Bart Lipinski.
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