When it’s time to file taxes, people want to claim as many deductions as possible. Home improvements are defined for tax purposes as work that increases the value of a home, extends its useful life or modifies it so it can be used for a new purpose. Examples include adding a new room, upgrading plumbing or electrical wiring, remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, replacing the roof, and adding a deck or walkway. Home improvements may be tax-deductible, but only in specific circumstances.
Home Used Exclusively as a Residence
If you only use your house as a residence, the costs of home improvements are not tax-deductible, but they may reduce the amount of taxes you’ll need to pay later when you sell your home. The basis is the amount of money you have invested in your home, including your down payment, mortgage payments, and the cost of home improvements. Money spent on repairs is not included in the basis. Paying for home improvements now can increase your basis and may lower your tax bill down the road.
The basis is deducted from the sale price to calculate the amount of profit. The first $250,000 of profit from the sale of a primary residence is not taxable for a single person, and $500,000 is non-taxable for a married couple filing jointly, provided you’ve lived in the house for at least two years in the five-year period prior to the sale.
Home Used for Business or Rental Purposes
If you use part of your home for a purpose other than as a personal residence, you may be able to depreciate the costs of home improvements by deducting them from your taxable income over a period of several years.
If you run a business out of your home and use part of your house exclusively for that purpose, you’ll be able to deduct 100 percent of the money spent on home improvements that only affect that portion of the house, such as installing shelves or new carpeting in a home office. If you make improvements that affect the entire house, such as repairing the roof, you can deduct a percentage of the cost based on the percentage of the house that’s dedicated to your business.
If you rent out part of your house, you can deduct the cost of home improvements from your rental income. If you make upgrades that only affect the room(s) you rent out, you can deduct the entire cost of those improvements. If you make renovations that improve the entire house, you can deduct a percentage of those costs that reflects the percentage of the house you rent out.
Financial Benefits of Home Improvements
Improvements you make to your home might save you thousands of dollars in taxes, but depending on how you use your house, you might not see those savings for many years. Keep receipts for all home improvements you make, and understand how they could affect your tax burden.