IRS Announces Acquiescence In Per Taxpayer Mortgage Deduction Ruling

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the Tax Court, had found that when multiple unmarried taxpayers co-own a qualifying residence, the debt limit provisions apply per taxpayer and not per residence.

Background. Registered domestic partners obtained a mortgage to purchase a house. The subsequently purchased another house with a mortgage, which they later refinanced and obtained a home equity line of credit totaling $300,000. The total average balance of the two mortgages and the line of credit during the tax years at issue was approximately $2.7 million. Both taxpayers filed separate income tax returns. Each individual claimed home mortgage interest deductions for interest paid on the two mortgages and the home equity line of credit. The Tax Court held that the on the amounts that may be treated as acquisition and home equity indebtedness with respect to a qualified residence are properly applied on a per-residence basis.

Ninth Circuit. Because the statute expressly provides that married individuals filing separate returns are entitled to deduct interest on up to $550,000 of home debt each, Congress implied that unmarried co-owners filing separate returns are entitled to deduct interest on up to $1.1 million of home debt each, the Ninth Circuit held.

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