What types of interest payments are tax deductible?

The question of what types of interest payments are tax deductible used to be a simple one, but since 1986, the law governing tax deductible interest payments has become very complicated. The general rule is that interest payments are tax deductible, but there are many exceptions to consider when filing taxes.

Investment Interest and Tax Deductions

One exception to the general rule that interest is tax deductible is investment interest. Investment interest payments are paid on indebtedness properly allocable to property held for investment, such as stocks held on margin, loans to others, etc. Investment interest also includes interest payments on real property rentals if the taxpayer actively participates in the activity. Passive real estate rentals are subject to a separate disallowance rule relating to passive activity losses. Investment interest is tax deductible by individuals only to the extent of investment income. Investment income means interest from investment property, including net capital gains. Examples of investment income include interest received and dividends.

Personal Interest and Tax Deductions

Personal interest payments are not tax deductible. Personal interest is defined as all interest except trade or business interest, investment interest, qualified residence interest (discussed in the following paragraph) and interest taken into account as part of the passive activity rules. This is why it might appear that the exceptions are consuming the rule.

Qualified Residence Interest and Tax Deductions

Qualified residence interest payments can be tax deductible and include the interest on a mortgage securing a principal residence or one other residence, such as a beach house or mountain cabin, the proceeds of which were used to acquire the residence. But your debt cannot exceed $1,000,000 in order to receive a tax deduction. In addition, qualified residence interest includes interest on any debt secured by a principal or the other residence, but not in excess of the fair market value of the residence less the acquisition debt. This other debt is limited to $100,000. The net result is that interest on debt secured by a qualified residence cannot exceed the value of the residence for a tax deduction, in addition to the $1,000,000 and $100,000 limits.

Getting Legal Help with Tax Deductible Interest Payments

Knowing what interest payments are tax deductible can be difficult as the law is complicated and littered with exceptions.  Consult an experienced tax attorney to properly deduct interest payments from your taxes.