Tax Consequences of Cash-Out Refinancing: What You Need to Know

Cash-out refinancing is a financial strategy that allows homeowners to access the equity in their property by refinancing their mortgage for an amount greater than the existing loan balance. This additional cash can be used for various purposes, such as home improvements, debt consolidation, or funding major expenses. While cash-out refinancing offers financial flexibility, it is important to understand the potential tax consequences associated with this strategy. In this article, we will explore the tax implications of cash-out refinancing and provide insights into the considerations and strategies homeowners should keep in mind.

Understanding Cash-Out Refinancing

Before delving into the tax implications, let's first understand how cash-out refinancing works. When you opt for a cash-out refinance, you replace your existing mortgage with a new loan that has a higher principal amount. The difference between the new loan amount and the outstanding mortgage balance is received by the homeowner as cash at closing. This additional cash can be used for various purposes, as mentioned earlier.

Taxable Income and Cash-Out Refinancing

One of the key aspects of cash-out refinancing to consider is the potential taxability of the funds received. In general, the cash received from a cash-out refinance is not considered taxable income because it is considered a loan. You are essentially borrowing against the equity in your home, and borrowing money is not treated as income for tax purposes.

Deductibility of Mortgage Interest

When it comes to mortgage interest, cash-out refinancing follows similar rules as a traditional mortgage. Under current tax laws, you can generally deduct the mortgage interest paid on a loan up to $750,000. This limit applies to the combined amount of your original mortgage and any additional cash-out refinancing you undertake. If the total loan balance exceeds $750,000, the deductible interest is limited to the interest paid on the first $750,000 of the loan.

It is important to note that recent changes to tax laws, effective from the 2018 tax year, have modified the deductibility of mortgage interest. Prior to these changes, the limit was set at $1 million. Homeowners who obtained cash-out refinancing before 2018 may still be subject to the previous limit if they meet certain criteria.

Capital Gains and Cash-Out Refinancing

When you sell your home, any gain from the sale may be subject to capital gains tax. Cash-out refinancing does not directly trigger a taxable event for capital gains purposes; however, it is crucial to consider the impact it may have when you eventually sell your property.

The amount of equity you extract through cash-out refinancing reduces your overall equity in the home. If you sell your property in the future and realize a significant gain, the amount of gain attributable to the refinanced portion may be subject to capital gains tax. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand the potential implications in your specific situation.

Tax Treatment of Home Equity Debt

Another important consideration is the tax treatment of the debt incurred through cash-out refinancing. Previously, homeowners could deduct interest paid on home equity debt of up to $100,000, regardless of how the funds were used. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated this deduction for tax years 2018 to 2025, unless the proceeds were used for home improvements and the debt remains within the limits mentioned earlier.

In summary, if the funds from cash-out refinancing are used for qualified home improvements, the interest may still be deductible, subject to the overall limits. If the proceeds are used for other purposes, however, the interest on the debt is generally not tax-deductible.

Potential Tax Benefits of Cash-Out Refinancing

While there are tax considerations to keep in mind, cash-out refinancing can also provide potential tax benefits. For example, if you use the additional cash to make home improvements that increase the value of your property, the capital gains tax on the appreciation may be reduced when you eventually sell the home.

Additionally, if you consolidate high-interest debt, such as credit card balances, into a cash-out refinance loan, you may be able to benefit from potential interest deductions. While the debt consolidation itself does not provide a tax advantage, the interest paid on the refinanced loan may be deductible, subject to the limits discussed earlier.

Reporting Requirements and Documentation

When it comes to reporting cash-out refinancing on your tax return, there are certain requirements and documentation you need to keep in mind. The interest paid on the refinanced loan should be reported on Form 1098, which you will receive from your lender. It is important to review this form for accuracy and ensure that you have the necessary documentation to support any deductions you claim.

If you are unsure about the reporting requirements or have complex tax situations, it is always advisable to consult with a tax professional who can guide you through the process.

Tax Planning Strategies for Cash-Out Refinancing

To optimize the tax benefits of cash-out refinancing, consider the following strategies:

  • Plan your use of the funds. If you have specific goals in mind for the cash received, such as home improvements or debt consolidation, it may help ensure that you can take advantage of any potential tax benefits associated with those uses.
  • Monitor changes in tax laws. Stay informed about any changes to tax laws that may affect the deductibility of mortgage interest or other tax considerations related to cash-out refinancing. This will help you make informed decisions and plan accordingly.
  • Consult a tax professional. Given the complexities of tax laws and the potential financial implications of cash-out refinancing, it is wise to seek advice from a qualified tax professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances.
Cash-out refinancing can be a valuable financial tool for homeowners looking to tap into their home equity. While it provides flexibility and access to funds, it is essential to understand the tax consequences associated with this strategy. Remember, it is always advisable to first consult with a tax professional to ensure you are properly navigating the complexities of tax laws to maximize your financial advantages.


Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)
Investopedia: Cash-Out Refinance vs. Home Equity Loan: What's the Difference?
NerdWallet: Cash-Out Refinance: How It Works and What to Know