Home improvements tax are deductible - questions and answers

Published: 04th February 2010
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Are home improvements tax deductible?

Home improvements, like renovating a home or making permanent additions to the home, increase the value of the house while making it more habitable. Home improvement loans, availed for the purpose of making certain improvements, qualify for tax deductions. In addition to these loans, certain expenses also qualify for tax deductions and tax credits. A tax deduction reduces the amount of taxable income. A tax credit, on the other hand, reduces the actual amount of tax that a person has to pay. Hence, a tax credit is better than a tax deduction since the former reduces the actual tax liability.

Home improvements, that have been undertaken for medical reasons, also qualify as medical expenses and are thus tax deductible. For instance, people suffering from heart ailments can install an elevator in the house, to avoid climbing the stairs, and can claim a tax deduction citing medical reasons. Improving the homes air filtration system by installing central air-conditioning or removing a drywall that may be damp and mould can help abate the symptoms of asthma in people experiencing breathing difficulty. The doctor may have to provide a letter stating the necessity of making these improvements. All reasonable costs, incurred to accommodate a handicapped individual, qualify for deductions. Constructing entrance and exit ramps for the home and widening the doorway at the entrance and the exit to the home in order to help handicapped people living in the home; installing railings and support bars along stairway and in the bathroom; modifying the kitchen to make it easily accessible to people with disabilities; modifying electric outlets and fixtures; installing lifts and levelling the ground are some of the capital expenses that are deductible.

The process of improving a real estate usually tends to be very expensive. Though this process is expensive, sometimes it is extremely essential. Home improvement grants and loans are financial aids extended to people to renovate personal real estates, like, their homes, farms and beach houses. In the real estate market, better the condition of the property, the more is it's market value. Also a beautifully interior designed and well furnished house, certainly is very inviting and comfortable. In general, home repairs are not tax deductible, while home improvements are rarely tax deductible. There are, however, a few types of improvements that do have tax deductions or credits, including medical necessity, home loan interest payments and energy efficiency.

Taxes are computed by taking a person's income (money from all sources earned), subtracting deductions and computing taxes based on the new amount. Tax credits will reduce the taxes owed on that new amount. That is, a deduction will reduce the amount of income that is to be taxed. Credits reduce the taxes a person actually pays. Some tax credits are refundable. If the taxes owed are less than the credit, that person will receive money back. Other tax credits are non-refundable, which means that the person will not receive money back. Tax deductions can only reduce the taxes owed, but will not result in a payment beyond the refund of taxes already paid.

In general, home repairs are not tax deductible, while home improvements are rarely tax deductible.

There are, however, a few types of improvements that do have tax deductions or credits, including medical necessity, home loan interest payments and energy efficiency. Building your own home is a challenging, yet very rewarding endeavour. It requires determination, discipline, solid budgeting and a commitment to the project. Determining the cost for construction can be a good way to begin thinking about designing a custom home.

Which Home Improvements Pay Off?

Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about making home improvements. Either you splurge for something purely for the sybaritic pleasure of having it - the Italian marble bathroom you've dreamed about; that skylight that your spouse has been hinting at for the last six years - or you take a pragmatic approach, buying an energy-efficient furnace or repairing a leaky roof because you want to increase your home's market value.

1) Covering the basic necessities - the first improvements you need to make are the ones that really matter. If there are any problems with your home's structure or systems, you need to fix these first. Potential buyers care more about problems that affect a home's function (like a leaky roof) than problems that are cosmetic (like an outdated kitchen). And, when potential buyers find out that the home needs major repairs (replacing the roof, updating an electrical system, or removing mould), they will move on to the next home for sale on their list. So, use your money wisely - especially if you have a limited budget. Focus on areas that make your home more liveable.

2) Kitchens - if your home poses no major problems, you can start your renovations in the kitchen. When you're making home improvements, the kitchen is a good place to start because it can greatly affect the value of your home.

Buyers want clean, updated kitchens. Be sure to use good quality materials and classic designs (but don't go too modern). In order for your home improvements to pay off, you need them to appeal to a wide range of home buyers. Some of the easier improvements to make include painting the kitchen (using a neutral colour, of course) and replacing cabinet hardware if the current hardware is too basic or outdated. Replacing outdated appliances almost always pays back more than full. Also, make sure that your kitchen has sufficient lighting.

Exactly how much you'll recoup in costs depends on several factors, including the direction of the broader housing market, the value of the homes in your neighbourhood, when you plan to sell the home and the nature of the project itself, explains Stacey Freed, senior editor of Remodelling magazine. In some housing markets, you could indeed earn more than your investment back on a remodelling project. When undertaking large remodelling projects, it is smart to research your local real estate market to find out if your project will return your investment when it is time to sell. Depending on where you live, the right project may return 100% of your investment. That is why research is the smartest way to begin any remodelling project.

Remodelling projects should be done when you are planning on staying in the house for several years rather than starting major work for the sake of trying to increase resale value. Since you can't guarantee that you will get a decent return, it makes the most sense to remodel when you will be able to enjoy the benefits in the long run; and make minor, more cosmetic changes if selling is your primary goal. Some home buyers (especially first-time home buyers) think that a down payment is the only cost of buying a home. However, they soon realize that their down payment is one of many costs that require cash or a check upfront. So, how much should you expect to pay before closing on your new home? When potential buyers drive up to your house, the first thing they see is the front of your house. Buyers know that usually the exterior of the house is a good indicator of the inside of the house, so the front of your home can make a very important first impression on potential buyers.

To make the best first impression possible, follow these seven steps. As a rule, improvements that increase the functional space of a home hold their value longer than ones that just make a house look better. Some basic home improvements and landscaping around your home can really increase the value and visual appeal of your property.

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