How tax deduction home improvement works

Are home improvements tax-deductible? tax deduction home improvement

Most repairs and improvements to your home are not tax deductible, but there are a few exceptions.
The cost basis of your home can go up if you make improvements, which can lower your tax bill if you sell it for more than you paid for it.
You may be able to get a federal tax credit for making your home more energy efficient. Depending on where you live, they may also lower your state or local taxes.
If you make changes to your home for medical reasons, you can write them off as a medical expense.
In general, home improvements are not tax deductible, but there are three main exceptions: capital improvements, improvements that save energy, and improvements related to medical care.

Capital Improvements and Taxes

A capital improvement is something that adds to the value of a home, makes it last longer, or changes it so that it can be used for something else. In some cases, these changes can lower the amount of tax you have to pay on the money you get when you sell your home. First, though, you need to know what kinds of changes count as capital improvements. How tax deduction home improvement works

The IRS says that the projects below are examples of capital improvements:

  • Systems like heating, central air, furnace, ducts, a central humidifier, a central vacuum, air and water filtration, wiring, security, or lawn sprinklers.
  • Additions: a bedroom, bathroom, deck, garage, porch, or patio
  • Landscaping, a driveway, a path, a fence, a retaining wall, or a swimming pool are all parts of a lawn and grounds.
  • Storm windows or doors, a new roof or siding, or a satellite dish for the outside of the house.
  • Attic, walls, floors, pipes, or ducts can all be insulated.
  • A septic system, a water heater, a soft water system, or a filtration system are all plumbing systems.
  • Built-in appliances, updating the kitchen, new flooring, wall-to-wall carpeting, or a fireplace can be added to the interior.

Capital improvements raise the value of your home and can save you money on taxes if you make a profit when you sell it. This is because they raise the property’s basis. The basis of a property is the amount of money you have put into it. If you sell your home for more than you bought it for and make a profit, you have a capital gain equal to the profit you made on the sale.

In general, you won’t have to report a capital gain on the sale of your home during tax season if you meet certain primary residence and ownership requirements and the profit from the sale is less than $250,000 (or $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly).

If you have to pay taxes, you can lower the amount of capital gains tax you have to pay by subtracting the basis from the money you made from the sale.

Capital Improvements vs. Repairs

The IRS doesn’t always consider property repairs investments, even if the owner spent time and money on them.
Jackson Hewitt senior vice president Mark Steber told The Balance in an email that gutter repairs and painting are not capital projects but routine maintenance.

Repairs may be considered capital improvements, though, if they were done as part of a larger project, like a large-scale remodel or restoration. A common example of a repair is replacing a broken window pane. But if you’re replacing a windowpane as part of a larger project to replace all the windows in your home, it can count as an improvement. 1

Tax credit for improvements that save energy

The residential energy-efficient property credit may be available to you if the changes you make to your home meet certain standards for energy efficiency. Homeowners can use this tax credit to get a credit equal to a certain percentage of the cost of “qualified property.” In this case, “qualified property” means the following types of equipment that saves energy:

  • Solar electric
  • Use the sun to heat water
  • Heat pumps that use geothermal energy
  • Windmills that are small
  • Fuel cells have a limit of $500 for every half kilowatt of power.
  • Biomass fuel

Tax breaks for medically necessary home improvements

Some capital improvements that are considered to be medical costs can be deducted. If the main reason for a home improvement is to help you, your children, or your spouse get medical care, you can count it as a medical expense on your taxes. If a permanent change to your property makes it worth more, you might be able to count it as a capital improvement.


A tax credit is not the same as a tax deduction. A deduction is when you take the amount of the deduction out of your income before figuring out how much you owe in taxes. A tax credit is when you take the amount of the credit out of the taxes you owe.

To do this, you take the cost of the improvement and take away the increase in your home’s value. The difference can be added to the cost of medical care. If the improvement doesn’t raise the value of your home, you can count the whole cost as a medical expense.

The IRS says that the following home improvements are examples of medical costs:

  • Putting in or taking out ramps
  • widening doors at entrances or exits or changing hallways and interior doors
  • Putting up handrails or support bars in the bathroom
  • Putting down kitchen cabinets to make them easier to reach
  • Fire alarms and smoke detectors are being changed.
  • Putting in railings or grab bars
  • Modifying stairways


This deduction does not apply to home improvements that are done to make the house look better. For the improvement to count as medical care, it must help a disabled person live in his or her own home. This deduction is only for costs that are reasonable. How tax deduction home improvement works

In conclusion

Steber said that you should keep careful records of all the money you spend on home improvements, even if you don’t get a tax break for them.

“They can be important when it’s time to sell or when a natural or man-made disaster happens,” Steber said. “If you have questions about personal or business expenses or improvements, it’s best to talk to a tax expert to find out what matters for your taxes and what matters later.”

Most home improvements aren’t tax deductible, but there are some ways to save on taxes that are worth remembering. When you sell your home, making capital improvements can save you money on your capital gains tax. Some improvements that are made for medical reasons or to save energy can also save you money on your taxes.

Questions People Usually Ask (FAQs)

Why should I keep financial records if my home renovation isn’t tax deductible?

Even though you might not get a tax break for making changes to your home, any changes that make it worth more will be taken into account when figuring out your capital gains tax. If you sell your home in the future, you could use the higher basis that comes from the remodel to offset some of the income.

Can I write off improvements I make to a house I rent out?

The IRS won’t allow you deduct rental property home upgrades as a business expenditure.
Renting a property lets you deduct some business expenses. . These only cover regular repairs and maintenance. They don’t cover renovations or other kinds of improvements.

What kinds of home improvements get the best tax breaks?

Depending on your tax situation, the home improvements that will give you the biggest tax break will vary. But many states and the federal government offer incentives for making changes that save energy. Californians that install solar panels may receive a federal tax credit, state rebate, and property tax relief.
5 How tax deduction home improvement works

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