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This article was fact-checked by our editors and Christina Taylor, MBA, senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma Tax®. It has been updated for the 2020 tax year.
When you own a home, your house payment will probably be the biggest bill you pay every month.
A house payment is often made up of multiple costs associated with having purchased the home, not just the principal and interest on a mortgage. Your lender may require you to put money every month into an escrow account from which they may pay your property taxes, homeowners insurance and private mortgage insurance, with that escrow payment being part of your monthly house payment.
Some of those costs may be deductible for homeowners who meet the criteria for certain tax breaks. Here are some portions of your house payment that you may be able to deduct from your federal income taxes.
Deducting mortgage interest
If you paid interest on a mortgage in the tax year, that entire amount may be deductible from your federal income taxes provided …
- You itemize deductions
- You paid the interest, or it accrued, during the tax year
- Your loan was for a principal residence or one other qualified residence (house, condo, co-op, mobile home, trailer home or boat)
- You used the loan proceeds to buy, build, substantially improve or refinance the home that secured the mortgage
- Your total mortgage debt (including home equity) was $1 million or less (or $500,000 or less if you were married but filing separate returns) for mortgages taken out before Jan. 1, 2018.
Tax reform affected the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners with mortgages initiated between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2025. Reform caps the amount of mortgage debt for which you can claim an interest deduction at $750,000. The limit is $375,000 for married couples filing separate returns.
If you put down less than 20% of the purchase price for your home when you initiated your mortgage, your lender might require you to carry private mortgage insurance. PMI protects the lender in case you default on your loan.
Typically, PMI is a monthly charge based on the value of your loan, and if you have to pay it, you’ll likely do so through an escrow account. To deduct PMI from your 2020 taxes, you must meet the criteria for claiming home mortgage interest. If you do, you can probably deduct the full amount of PMI premiums that your lender reports on Form 1098.
Deducting property taxes
Your lender may also require you to pay your state or local property taxes through an escrow account. If you do, the portion of your house payment that pays your property taxes may be deductible.
You may be able to take this deduction if …
- You itemize your deductions on Schedule A
- You paid the tax when you closed on your home or to a taxing authority during the year
- The tax was not used to pay for a specific service provided by the taxing authority (for example, trash collection)
- The tax wasn’t to pay for benefits that would increase the value of your property (for example, installation of sidewalks)
You can only deduct a total of $10,000 ($5,000 for those married filing separately) for property taxes plus state and local income taxes (or sales tax instead of income tax) combined. That means if you paid $5,000 in property tax and $6,000 in state income tax, you can only take a $10,000 deduction toward that total $11,000 cost. The rule expires on Jan. 1, 2026.
Costs you can’t deduct
Some portions of your home payment, like the following, simply aren’t deductions for homeowners:
- Homeowners insurance
- Fire insurance
- Mortgage principal (the part of your mortgage payment that pays down the actual amount you borrowed)
Your lender may or may not require that you pay these costs through an escrow account.
Owning a home is a big investment. While some deductions for homeowners may allow you to recoup portions of your house payment, other costs are not deductible. It’s important to understand what portion of your house payment you’re allowed to deduct, and what costs you’ll have to carry on your own.
Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma Tax®. She has more than a dozen years of experience in tax, accounting and business operations. Christina founded her own accounting consultancy and managed it for more than six years. She co-developed an online DIY tax-preparation product, serving as chief operating officer for seven years. She is the current treasurer of the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors and holds a bachelor’s in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.