The only interest that is deductible as an itemized deduction is home mortgage interest and investment interest. If you are like so many others with large consumer debt such as credit cards, car payments etc., you are paying interest that is not deductible. If the amount of consumer interest you pay each year is substantial and you itemize your deductions, you may want to consider converting that nondeductible interest into deductible interest by paying off the consumer debt with a home equity line of credit. Generally, current law allows individual taxpayers to borrow up to $100,000 of home equity and deduct the interest on that loan as home mortgage interest. This would also apply to planned large consumer purchases such as a car or motor home. Using a home equity line to purchase these items will make the interest deductible.

Before borrowing against the home, you should consider the following:

  • Treat the home equity loan like a consumer loan and pay it off over the same period of time you would have had to pay the consumer loan. Otherwise, you may reach retirement age without having the home paid for.
  • When buying a car, you can sometimes get very favorable interest rates or a rebate. It is good practice to make sure the benefit of making the interest deductible is greater than the benefit of the low interest consumer loan.
  • If there is any chance of defaulting on the loan, the repercussions from defaulting on a home loan are far more serious than on consumer debt.