Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mortgage Insurance Premiums Tax Deductable for 2007

The 109th Congress has granted an early holiday gift for new home buyers who purchase a home or take out a mortgage utilizing Mortgage Insurance in 2007. For transactions that fund between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007, borrowers will be able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums paid on their 2008 Federal Tax Return.

Once signed by President Bush, this new law will have a dramatic effect on piggy back mortgages and may cause borrowers to delay closings scheduled for December 2006 in order to benefit from the law.

A borrower taking out a $175,500 loan amount in the 25% tax bracket would pay an estimated premium of $86.50 per month or $1,038 per year. The estimated tax deduction would be $260.00 for 2007. (This is not intended to be tax advice, dollar amounts rounded up and assumes premium payments made 12 months in 2007).

Bottom Line for Buyers: The full text of this Bill has not been released pending signature by the President. It appears that you will benefit from this law when purchasing or refinancing a home. Buyers would benefit by delaying the closing of a mortgage loan with mortgage insurance until January 1, 2007 or later. I would caution against delaying a closing prior to considering the full impact of this action, such as your contractual obligations, expiration dates for interest rate locks, moving schedules for both buyer and seller, cost savings from the deduction vs. expenses created by delaying your closing date, etc. Consumers should consult their lender or other real estate professional prior to altering a closing date. Borrowers should also consider that private mortgage insurance can be removed at the point when the property value and loan balance achieve an equity position of 20% or more. Higher rates on piggyback loans remain until they are paid in full.

Bottom Line for Sellers: If your sale is scheduled to close in December 2006, be prepared for the buyer of your home to request an extension of the closing date. Based on the terms of your purchase agreement, you may not be required to grant such an extension.

Bottom Line for Builders: If your sale is scheduled to close in December 2006, be prepared for the buyer of your home to request an extension of the closing date. Based on the terms of your purchase agreement, you may not be required to grant such an extension. The challenge for builders will be weighing your desire to add another transaction to the books for 2006 and making the best customer service gesture for your buyers. One strategy I recommend would be to calculate actual tax savings for the buyer and offer to credit an equal amount at closing in exchange for a closing in 2006. There is the possibility that the deduction could be extended by Congress beyond 2007 and the buyer would need to consider this possibility and the resulting loss of future deductions.

Bottom Line for Lenders: Research all of the available information concerning this law and become knowledgeable on the impact on your borrowers and real estate agents. Be prepared to receive calls from your clients and be proactive by contacting any client that could be affected by the new law. I recommend that you develop tools that will allow you to accurately compare the use of loans with mortgage insurance as compared to combo (piggyback) loans. It is likely that many borrowers will benefit from refinancing to maximize the benefit of converting their adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate. I strongly caution that you do not provide specific tax advice and refer your clients to their tax advisor for clarification of how the law relates to their situation.

Bottom Line for Mortgage Insurance Providers: Congratulations, the playing field has been temporarily leveled and you should see an increase in transactions utilizing mortgage insurance in 2007.

According to an analysis conducted by Bankrate, there are four caveats to consider.

Caveat No. 1: The tax deduction applies only to mortgages that are closed in 2007. If you have a loan with mortgage insurance in 2006, you won't be able to deduct the premiums in the 2007 tax year unless you refinance in 2007.

Caveat No. 2: There are income limits. You get the full deduction if your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less. The amount you can deduct phases out rapidly after that, and no mortgage insurance deduction is available if you make more than $110,000.

Caveat No. 3: This is a one-year deal, and Congress would have to renew the deduction to make it apply for the 2008 tax year and beyond. Congress probably will extend the deduction, but you can't know for sure.

Caveat No. 4: If you take the standard deduction instead of itemizing deductions, the new law makes no difference to you. "You need to have a mortgage of about $130,000 or so to even pay enough interest to hurdle the standard deduction," says Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans. In practice, he says, this means that the deduction is available to households with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000.

Please visit http://www.privatemortgagebanking.netand click "Free Reports" to download a complete summary including the full text of the Act and Section when it becomes available.

The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 Section 419:

Section 6050H of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to mortgage interest) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

In general.--Premiums paid or accrued for qualified mortgage insurance by a taxpayer during the taxable year in connection with acquisition indebtedness with respect to a qualified residence of the taxpayer shall be treated for purposes of this section as interest which is qualified residence interest.


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