Monday, March 23, 2009

IRS Limits Home Mortgage Interest Deduction for Gay/Lesbian Couples

The Tax Professor Blog recently posted an entry discussing new IRS limits on mortgage interest deductions that would negatively affect some gay and lesbian couples. Check out the text of the entry below.

The TaxProf email discussion group has been abuzz lately about newly issued Chief Counsel Advisory 0911007 (Nov. 24, 2008; released Mar. 13, 2009), which held that the $1 million limitation on the deduction of mortgage interest on acquisition indebtedness under § 163(h)(3)(B) applies on a per-mortgage basis, rather than on a per-taxpayer basis. The ruling has enormous implications for both gay/lesbian and heterosexual couples who co-own their homes, particularly in states with high housing prices like California. Prior to the ruling, tax folks assumed that unmarried co-owners could each deduct mortgage interest on $1 million of acquisition indebtedness, thus permitting deduction of interest on one $2 million mortgage. The ruling appears contrary to the statute, as § 163(h)(4)(A)(i)(I) defines a qualified residence by reference to § 121, and Reg. § 1.121-2(a)(2) applies the $250,000 exclusion on a per-taxpayer basis in a co-owner situation.

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