Topic no. 505, Interest expense

Interest is an amount you pay for the use of borrowed money. Some interest can be claimed as a deduction or as a credit. To deduct interest you paid on a debt, review each interest expense to determine how it qualifies and where to take the deduction. 

When you prepay interest, you must allocate the interest over the tax years to which the interest applies. You may deduct in each year only the interest that applies to that year. However, an exception applies to points paid on a principal residence, see Topic no. 504.

Types of interest deductible as itemized deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040, Itemized Deductions) include:

Types of interest deductible elsewhere on the return include:

Types of interest not deductible include personal interest, such as:

  • Interest paid on a loan to purchase a car for personal use.
  • Credit card and installment interest incurred for personal expenses.
  • Points (if you're a seller), service charges, credit investigation fees, and interest relating to tax-exempt income, such as interest to purchase or carry tax-exempt securities.

Mortgage interest deduction

Qualified mortgage interest includes interest and points you pay on a loan secured by your main home or a second home. Your main home is where you live most of the time, such as a house, cooperative apartment, condominium, mobile home, house trailer, or houseboat. It must have sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities.

A second home can include any other residence you own and choose to treat as a second home. You don't have to use the home during the year. However, if you rent it to others, you must also use it as a home during the year for more than the greater of 14 days or more than 10 percent of the number of days you rent it, for the interest to qualify as qualified residence interest. For more information regarding a qualified residence (home), see Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction and Can I deduct my mortgage-related expenses?

Qualified mortgage interest and points are generally reported to you on Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement by the mortgage holder to which you made the payments. You can deduct interest for the following types of mortgages:

  • A mortgage you took out on or before October 13, 1987 (grandfathered debt)
  • A mortgage taken out after October 13, 1987, to buy, build, or improve your home (called home acquisition debt) but only if throughout the year these mortgages plus any grandfathered debt totaled $1 million or less. The limit is $500,000 if you're married filing separately. For homes acquired after December 15, 2017, the debt limitation is $750,000, or $375,000 if you're married filing separately.

If one or more of your mortgages doesn't fit into any of these categories, refer to Publication 936 to figure the amount of interest you can deduct as an itemized deduction.

Mortgage interest credit

You may be able to take a credit against your federal income tax for certain mortgage interest if a mortgage credit certificate (MCC) was issued to you by a state or local governmental unit or agency. Use Form 8396, Mortgage Interest Credit to figure the amount. For further information, refer to Publication 530, Tax Information for Homeowners. If you sell your home after you've taken this credit and/or the First-Time Homebuyer credit, you may have to repay all or part of the credit(s). For information on repayment of a mortgage subsidy, see Publication 523, Selling Your Home. For repayment of the First-time Homebuyer credit, refer to Topic no. 611 and Do I need to repay the first-time homebuyer credit?