white house with a for sale sign

Do you own a second home, or are you considering buying a second home as an investment? If you do so, you'll find that the way you use your property will affect the information you include in your taxes, and what type of second home tax deductions are available.

A home that's purely a vacation residence will require different tax filings than a house that's primarily used as a rental for tenants, for example. If your house is intended for both personal use and as a rental, you'll want to be prepared to account for how much time is allocated to each type of use.

Mortgage interest deductions on second homes

Can you deduct mortgage interest on a second home? If your second house was purchased before December 15, 2017, is used primarily for personal use and isn't a rental or business property, then the answer is yes; you can deduct the mortgage interest on the second home just as you would with your first home. Up to 100% of interest paid on up to $750,000 of debt can be written off on your taxes.

When your second home is rented out

Local and state real estate taxes paid on a second or vacation home are also generally deductible for personal use. However, if you're buying your second home for a rental property to bring in more income, filing taxes can become a little more complicated.

If you rent out your second house for 14 days or fewer throughout the entire year, the Internal Revenue Service lets you keep the income free of any tax. But if you rent out that home for more than 14 days at a fair market price, then all income must be reported on your taxes. Expenses related to rentals, such as depreciation, maintenance and even a property manager, can be itemized and deducted.

When your home is a rental and a residence

If you use the home as a residence and as a rental property, you'll have to divide the costs between the times it’s used as either personal or business when you file taxes. For example, if the home is used by your family for more than 10% of the number of days that it's rented, then it's considered a residence and rental costs can’t be deducted from your taxes.

For example, if you rented your home out for 30 days and also used it personally for 10 days, then the house was used for 40 days. Ten of the 40 days, or 25%, count as personal use. You don't have to report the rental income as long as the home wasn't rented out for more than 14 days. The house is still considered a personal residence.

It pays to invest in maintaining the second property. If your family uses the house for under 14 days, or 10% of the number of days it’s rented, the home is considered a rental. Time spent on the property to fix up and maintain it, however, doesn’t count as personal use.

When you’re ready to sell

When you're ready to sell your vacation home, be prepared to pay a capital gains tax if the home has appreciated. The IRS charges a capital gains tax when you sell an asset for more than you paid for it.

A few years ago, families who made their second home their primary residence qualified for a tax exemption from the home sale if they lived in the second home for at least two years prior to selling. Congress has since made significant changes to the federal tax code. If you purchased your second home before 2008, when the government changed the write-off requirements, you may be eligible for a tax exclusion on up to $500,000 of sale profits.

Whether you're buying your second home or your first, one thing you'll need is insurance to protect it. Contact Nationwide for an insurance quote to secure your investment against covered losses.

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