If your project qualifies as an improvement to your home, you’ll enjoy some tax benefits. But if the project is a repair, there’s generally no tax benefit. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell the difference.
An improvement is defined by the IRS as something that adds value to your home or extends its life. Putting in a new kitchen, building an extension or adding a new deck are considered improvements because they add value. Replacing the roof is an improvement because it extends the life of your home.
On the other hand, a repair merely keeps the home in good working order. Examples of repairs include painting the interior or exterior or replacing a few missing shingles.
You can get tax benefits by adding the cost of your home improvements to your original cost basis. That’s the amount you first paid for the home. When you sell, a higher cost basis means a smaller capital gain. And generally you’ll only pay tax on a capital gain greater than $500,000 ($250,000 for singles). So, the smaller your capital gain, the less likely you are to owe tax when you sell.
That’s why it’s important to save bills and receipts for any projects that may qualify as improvements. Include notes that describe the related home improvement. You may need to keep these receipts for years until you sell your home. But when you do, these updates could be the key to reducing a possible tax bill.
If you want to know whether your project is a repair or an improvement, please call our office.