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A Guide To The Tax Implications Of A Cash-Out Refinance

May 17, 2024 7-minute read

Author: Victoria Araj


If you’re planning a major home upgrade and want to use your home equity to your advantage, you might wonder about cash-out refinance tax implications. Many homeowners use this type of refinance to cover some expensive debt, like adding a pool or replacing a broken HVAC unit.

We’ll discuss some of the implications you might consider when you file your taxes during the year in which you take a cash-out refinance. We’ll also give you a refresher on how these refinances work and how much they cost so you can understand how the IRS views the money you receive.

Overview: Tax Implications With Refinances

You accept a loan with a higher principal and take out the difference in cash when you take a cash-out refinance. The IRS views refinances a bit differently than they do a first mortgage. In other words, the IRS sees refinances as a type of debt restructuring. This means that the deductions and credits you can claim with a refinance are less robust than when you originally took out your loan.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 increased the standard deduction for both single and married filers but also cut many tax deductions homeowners could previously count on.

Under this tax law, your insurance payments aren’t considered tax deductible. Some new rules also apply to refinances. For example, you can’t deduct the total cost of any discount points you pay at closing in the year you get your new loan (above the $10,000 max property and state tax deduction). However, you may deduct them over the course of your new loan.

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Is A Cash-Out Refinance Taxable?

It’s important that we review how cash-out refinances work before we look at how the IRS views the money you get from this transaction.

When you do a cash-out refinance, you replace your existing mortgage with a loan that has a higher principal balance. Your lender then gives you the difference in cash. You can use the money from a cash-out refinance for almost anything; however, many homeowners use it to consolidate debt or make home improvements.

Say you have $100,000 left on your mortgage loan and you want to do $30,000 worth of repairs. Your lender might offer a new loan worth $130,000 at a 4% annual percentage rate (APR). You take the refinance and your lender gives you $30,000 in cash a few days after closing. You then pay back your new mortgage loan over time, just like your old loan.

Filing Taxes With A Cash-Out Refinance

One of the first questions that many homeowners have when they take a cash-out refinance is whether they need to report the cash received as income when they file their taxes.

The cash you get from this kind of refinance isn’t “free money.” It’s a form of debt that you must pay interest on over time. The IRS doesn’t view the money you take from a cash-out refinance as income – instead, it’s considered an additional loan. You don’t need to include the cash from your refinance as income when you file your taxes.

You Must Meet Specific Requirements To Deduct Your Interest

In exchange for this leniency, there are a few rules on what you can and can’t deduct when you take a cash-out refinance. Though you can use the money for nearly anything, you’ll need to use it for a capital home improvement that increases the home’s value to deduct your interest. You usually can’t deduct the interest if you use the money for anything else, like paying off credit card debt or taking your dream vacation. IRS Publication 936 covers this in a little more detail.

How To Make Your Cash-Out Refinance Tax Deductible

Limitations have been set on what interest you can deduct when you take a cash-out refinance, and there are a few ways to claim refinance tax deductions. Let’s go over some of them now.

Make Capital Home Improvements

You can deduct the interest you pay on the portion of your loan that you refinance if you make a capital improvement in your home. Anything that adds longevity to your home, increases its value, or adapts the home to a different market counts as a capital improvement. Some of the most common capital improvements include:

  • Adding a swimming pool, spa or hot tub to your backyard
  • Putting in a fence for privacy or aesthetic reasons
  • Incorporating a new bedroom or addition to your home
  • Fixing your roof to increase its lifespan
  • Replacing a central air conditioning system or heating system
  • Updating old windows to storm windows or energy-efficient windows

Capital improvements can also include installing a home security system and other smaller improvements.

Repairs Don’t Qualify For Deductions

Remember, only home additions count as capital improvements. Home repairs don’t improve the baseline value of your property and don’t qualify for an interest deduction. This includes repairs like the following:

  • Fixing an HVAC system
  • Replacing a broken window
  • Painting a bedroom

Improving the value of your property means you can also save money when you sell your home. Capital home improvements count toward the total amount you spent on the property and can potentially lessen your capital gains tax liability. Always keep careful records and receipts so you know when you did your renovations and how much money you spent.

Add A Home Office

Adding a home office is a capital improvement and allows you to deduct the cost of any interest you pay toward your cash-out refinance. A home office can also offer additional tax benefits if you’re a small-business owner or are self-employed.

You can claim the home office deduction on your federal taxes when you add a home office to your residence. The home office deduction allows you to claim a percentage of what you pay in your mortgage as a business expense. You may choose the simplified deduction or the regular deduction when you calculate your tax liability.

You’ll need to follow these rules:

  • You can deduct $5 per square foot from your federal taxes when you take the simplified option if your home office is less than or equal to 300 square feet.
  • You need to take the regular deduction if your home office is larger than 300 square feet. The regular deduction gives you a deduction based on your office’s size as it relates to the overall cost of your mortgage.

Example Of How Home Offices Impact Your Taxes

Imagine that you add a 500-square-foot home office to your primary residence. This brings your total property size to 2,000 square feet. Let’s also imagine that you pay $1,500 a month for your monthly mortgage payment, own a small business and conduct your business primarily from the office you’ve added. You can deduct 10% of your monthly mortgage payment ($1,800 annually) from your federal taxes as a business deduction.

Keep in mind that in order to qualify for the home office deduction, you must meet some specific criteria:

  • Regular and exclusive usage: You must use your home office only for business purposes, and only you and your clients can use your office space. You can’t claim the home office deduction if you add a home office that also doubles as a guest bedroom or a child’s playroom.
  • Principal place of business: Your home office must be the primary place that you conduct business. Though you don’t need to only conduct business from your office, it must be the place where you do most of your work, billing or accounting.

Improve Or Repair A Rental Property

You might use the money from a cash-out refinance to improve or repair a rental property that you manage. You can deduct these expenses from your federal taxes. Any improvements or repairs you make to a property you rent out are almost always tax deductible. This is because the IRS considers any money you earn from rent as personal income. You can also deduct closing costs, interest and insurance you pay on a rental property from your income as business expenses.

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FAQs About Cash-Out Refinance Tax Implications

Here are a few commonly asked questions about the tax implications of cash-out refinances.

Is a cash-out refinance tax deductible?

If you’re using a cash-out refinance for capital home improvements, you may be able to deduct a portion of the interest you pay on your new mortgage from your taxes. However, if you’re planning on using the cash-out refinance for debt consolidation, home repairs, or upgrades to your home that don’t increase your property value, you won’t be able to deduct the interest from your taxes.

Will I have to pay taxes on the money I receive from the cash-out refinance?

No. Cash-out refinances allow you to borrow the equity you’ve built in your home. Since the cash you receive from the refinance is technically a loan that your lender expects you to pay back on time, the IRS won’t consider that cash as taxable income.

How can I tell if a cash-out refinance is right for me?

If you have a good amount of equity built up in your home and know that you want to use the money to pay for capital improvements, a cash-out refinance may be a great option. However, if you don’t have a lot of equity built up in your home, you may want to consider using a personal loan or some other type of financing to cover your home improvements.

Can I deduct the mortgage points I purchased on my refinance from my taxes?

Your mortgage lender might allow you to buy mortgage points. Mortgage points allow you to pay money upfront to “buy down” your interest rate. Though these points are deductible, you often can’t deduct the full amount you pay the year you refinance. Instead, you must spread the cost over the total course of your loan.

The Bottom Line

The cash you take out of your equity during a refinance isn’t considered income by the IRS. However, there are limitations on refinancing deductions that you can take when you refinance your loan. You may only discount interest you pay on your new loan if you use your cash to make a capital improvement on your property.

Even if you’re not able to claim deductions on your taxes, a cash-out refinance can be a great way to help you cover unexpected expenses and home repairs. When you’re ready, get started on your refinance with help from Rocket Mortgage®.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.