Summary of the Fiscal Cliff Deal – Real Estate Impact

From an email I received recently from the California Association of Realtors. I found it was a useful summary.

American Taxpayers Relief Act signed into law
Last week, Congress reached an agreement in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, and President Obama signed the American Taxpayers Relief Act into law last Wednesday.
C.A.R. would like to recognize and thank the tens of thousands of C.A.R. members who worked to successfully maintain the mortgage interest deduction by responding to the Call for Actions and open letter advertisements in the state’s major newspapers.

Here are some housing-related provisions included in the federal law:

• Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act extended for one year
• The “Pease Limitations” that reduced the value of itemized deductions, including the mortgage interest deduction, are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers. This provision reduces a taxpayer’s itemized deductions by 3 percent of the amount of his or her adjusted gross income (AGI) that exceeds the threshold amount. Under the new law, the Pease thresholds are $300,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $250,000 for single taxpayers (i.e., a married couple with an AGI of $400,000 would be $100,000 over the threshold; the couple’s deductions would be reduced by $3,000 which is 3% of $100,000). No matter how high a taxpayer’s AGI, the Pease reduction cannot exceed 20 percent of the amount of itemized deductions otherwise allowable for the year.
• The restoration of a tax deduction for mortgage-insurance premiums, including premiums paid to the Federal Housing Administration and private mortgage insurers. This provision expired at the end of 2011 but has now been retroactively extended for all of 2012 as well as 2013.
• 10 percent tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
• Capital gains rates will remain at 15 percent for those earning less than $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint). Gains above those income levels will be taxed at 20 percent. Gains on the sale of principal residences will remain unchanged and continues to exclude the first $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 taxpayers filing jointly.