Is Home Equity Line of Credit Tax Deductible?

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on June 09, 2024

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Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Overview

A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a financial tool that allows homeowners to borrow against the equity in their home. Equity is the difference between the current market value of a home and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property.

Essentially, a HELOC functions as a revolving line of credit, giving homeowners access to a pre-approved amount of funds that they can draw from as needed.

The functioning of a HELOC is somewhat similar to that of a credit card but with the borrower's home as collateral.

Initially, there is a draw period, typically lasting 5 to 10 years, during which the homeowner can borrow up to the credit limit.

During this period, payments are usually interest-only. After the draw period ends, the repayment period begins, usually lasting 10 to 20 years, where the homeowner must make payments on both the principal and the interest.

Interest rates on HELOCs are generally variable, tied to an index like the prime rate. This means that the interest rate, and consequently the payments, can fluctuate over time depending on market conditions.

Some lenders may offer a fixed-rate option for a portion of the borrowed funds.

Tax Deductibility of HELOCs

Basic Principles of Tax Deductions in Relation to Loan Interest

Generally, the interest paid on a loan can be tax-deductible, but this depends on the loan type and its use. For HELOCs, the deductibility of interest is contingent on whether the borrowed funds are used for qualifying purposes, like home improvement.

Changes in Tax Laws Affecting HELOC Deductibility

The deductibility of HELOC interest has undergone significant changes, particularly with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2018 in the United States.

Prior to the TCJA, homeowners could deduct interest on HELOCs regardless of how the funds were used, subject to certain limitations. The TCJA altered this, narrowing the scope of deductible interest.

Criteria for Tax Deductibility of HELOCs

Traceability Rule: Using the Loan for Capital Improvements

The IRS now requires that for HELOC interest to be deductible, the funds must be used to "buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan".

This is often referred to as the traceability rule. If the funds are used for other purposes, such as paying off credit card debt or financing a vacation, the interest is not deductible.

Limitations on the Amount That Can Be Deducted

There are also limitations on the amount of interest that can be deducted.

As of 2023, interest on HELOCs is deductible only on debt up to $750,000 (or $375,000 if married filing separately). This limit is inclusive of any other mortgages the homeowner might have.

Differences in Deductibility Based on How the Loan Is Used

The deductibility of HELOC interest hinges on the use of the funds. If the funds are used for qualifying home improvements, the interest is potentially deductible.

However, if the funds are used for personal expenses, such as buying a car or paying for a vacation, the interest is not deductible.

This distinction underscores the importance for homeowners to carefully consider how they utilize their HELOC funds, especially if they intend to take advantage of the tax deduction.

Understanding the tax implications of a HELOC and the proper use of its funds is crucial for homeowners. It's always recommended to consult with a tax professional to understand how these rules apply to individual circumstances fully.

Criteria for Tax Deductibility of Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Common Uses of Home Equity Lines of Credit

HELOCs provide a flexible funding source for various purposes. Common uses include:

Home Improvements and Repairs: Many homeowners use HELOCs to finance home renovations, which can potentially increase the value of the home.

Debt Consolidation: HELOCs can be used to consolidate high-interest debts, such as credit card debts, into a single loan with a lower interest rate.

Education Expenses: Some homeowners tap into their equity to pay for education costs.

Emergency Fund: HELOCs can serve as a financial safety net in case of emergencies, providing access to funds when needed.

Major Purchases: HELOCs can be used for large purchases, such as buying a car or financing a wedding.

Common Uses of Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)

Understanding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and HELOC

How the TCJA Affects HELOC Tax Deductions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 significantly altered the tax landscape for homeowners with Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs).

Before the TCJA, homeowners could deduct interest paid on HELOCs up to $100,000, regardless of how the funds were used.

However, the TCJA changed this in two major ways:

Usage Restriction for Deductibility: Post-TCJA, HELOC interest is only deductible if the funds are used to buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer's home that secures the loan.

This shift from general to specific use means that interest on funds used for other purposes, like debt consolidation or personal expenses, is no longer deductible.

Loan Limitation: The TCJA also reduced the limit on the amount of loans eligible for interest deduction.

For loans taken out after December 15, 2017, only the interest on the first $750,000 of mortgage debt ($375,000 if married filing separately) is deductible.

This limit includes the combined total of all mortgage and HELOC debt.

Examples of Deductible vs Non-Deductible HELOC Interest Under the TCJA

Deductible Interest Example: If a homeowner takes out a HELOC to add a new room to their house, the interest on this loan is typically deductible, as it's used for a substantial improvement of the primary residence.

Non-Deductible Interest Example: If the same homeowner uses a HELOC to pay off credit card debt or fund a vacation, the interest on this portion of the HELOC would not be deductible under the TCJA rules.

Calculating Deductible HELOC Interest

Step-by-Step Guide on Calculating the Deductible Portion of HELOC Interest

Determine the Loan Amount Used for Qualifying Purposes: First, identify how much of the HELOC was used for eligible expenses (home buying, building, or improvements).

Check the Loan Limits: Ensure that the HELOC amount, combined with any other mortgage debt, does not exceed the $750,000 limit ($375,000 if married filing separately).

Calculate the Interest: Determine the annual interest paid on the qualifying portion of the HELOC.

Apply the Limitation: If the total mortgage debt exceeds the threshold, prorate the deductible interest accordingly.

Guide on Calculating the Deductible Portion of Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) Interest

Importance of Maintaining Records and Receipts for Tax Purposes

Keeping meticulous records is crucial. Homeowners should retain all receipts and invoices related to home improvements or purchases made using HELOC funds.

These documents are necessary to substantiate the use of funds for qualifying purposes in case of an audit by the IRS.

Additional Considerations

Impact of Refinancing a HELOC on Tax Deductions

Refinancing a HELOC can affect its tax deductibility. The interest on the refinanced loan remains deductible only if the new loan amount does not exceed the original loan amount and the funds continue to be used for eligible purposes.

Increasing the loan amount or using the funds for non-qualifying purposes may jeopardize the deductibility.

Role of State Tax Laws in HELOC Deductibility

State tax laws may differ from federal regulations. Some states allow deductions on HELOC interest regardless of the federal law, while others conform closely to the federal guidelines. Homeowners should consult local tax laws to understand their specific situation.

Seeking Professional Advice for Complex Situations

Due to the complexity and variability of tax laws, it's advisable to consult tax professionals, particularly for intricate situations like refinancing, major home improvements, or when mortgage and HELOC debts are near the upper limit.

Professional guidance ensures compliance with tax laws and maximizes potential deductions.


A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) allows homeowners to borrow against their home's equity, functioning like a credit card with the home as collateral.

It offers a draw period for borrowing, followed by a repayment phase, with variable interest rates subject to market changes.

Tax deductibility of HELOC interest, revised by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), is now limited to funds used for home buying, building, or substantial improvements, with a deduction cap on loans up to $750,000.

Accurate record-keeping and awareness of state tax laws are essential.

Given the complexities in tax laws, especially with refinancing or major home improvements, consulting tax professionals is vital for compliance and maximizing deductions, ensuring informed financial decisions for homeowners.

Is Home Equity Line of Credit Tax Deductible? FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

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