Taxes and Second Homes: Will Buying a Second Home Help Lower My Income Taxes?

God, I wish I could say yes, but more likely, just maybe. Or how about, fat chance?

I checked with my wonderful CPA firm, Judd, Thomas Smith & Company, who says you may still deduct mortgage interest on a second home and also property taxes but watch it: that alternative minimum tax, a complicated Congressional invention to snag the rich that ends up now screwing the middle class, sometimes puts the brakes on mortgage interest or property tax deductions of any abode.

Which is why I die laughing at all this posturing going on in Washington — hec, many people aren’t even getting the benefit of this so called deduction. Take it away? How about you fix the stupid ATM!

If you sell the second house and make a gain, which is another fat chance in this market, any gain is not eligible for a Section 121 (capital gains) exclusion. You will pay taxes. Hey, that’s one bright side of this market, right? If you sell your primary residence $500,000 in capital gains is excluded (married couple, filing jointly) but over that, you pay the capital gains tax rate.

Just wait till they start whining about that in Washington, too.

There’s always a 1031 Exchange, which my CPA says he has not done many of, and I’d actually like to know why. I love 1031 Exchanges!

Most people get enough write-offs from their primary residences, but a second home can provide write offs, particularly if you lease it out. (The IRS only allows you a few days each year, about 10% of the time, to visit your home and maintain it. That’s precisely why you need multiple homes!) Then you pay off the home through rental payments, borrow against it, and build what I call “stealth wealth” this way.

I asked about fractional ownership, particularly because I want a fractional at Watercolor or Alys Beach sooo badly, and he said the same rules apply, but do you really want to have to deal with all those partners in ownership?  I don’t know, mulling.

Meantime, this is my year to button down the financial s, do another 1031 Exchange, start another blog, and take you all with me all the way. I think real estate is a great way to diversify investments because it gives you total control.