The mortgage interest credit is intended to help lower-income individuals own a home. If you qualify, you can take the credit each year for part of the home mortgage interest you pay.

Who qualifies.   You may be eligible for the credit if you were issued a qualified Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) from your state or local government. Generally, an MCC is issued only in connection with a new mortgage for the purchase of your main home.

Amount of credit.   Figure your credit on Form 8396. If your mortgage loan amount is equal to (or smaller than) the certified indebtedness (loan) amount shown on your MCC, enter on Form 8396, line 1, all the interest you paid on your mortgage during the year.

If your mortgage loan amount is larger than the certified indebtedness amount shown on your MCC, you can figure the credit on only part of the interest you paid. To find the amount to enter on line 1, multiply the total interest you paid during the year on your mortgage by the following fraction.

Limit based on credit rate.   If the certificate credit rate is more than 20%, the credit you are allowed can’t be more than $2,000. If two or more persons (other than a married couple filing a joint return) hold an interest in the home to which the MCC relates, this $2,000 limit must be divided based on the interest held by each person. See Pub. 530 for more information.

Carryforward.   Your credit (after applying the limit based on the credit rate) is also subject to a limit based on your tax that is figured using Form 8396. If your allowable credit is reduced because of this tax liability limit, you can carry forward the unused portion of the credit to the next 3 years or until used, whichever comes first.

If you are subject to the $2,000 limit because your certificate credit rate is more than 20%, you can’t carry forward any amount more than $2,000 (or your share of the $2,000 if you must divide the credit).

How to take the credit.    Figure your 2015 credit and any carry-forward to 2016 on Form 8396, and attach it to your Form 1040. Be sure to include any credit carry-forward from 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Include the credit in your total for Form 1040, line 54. Check box c and enter “8396” on the line next to that box.

Reduced home mortgage interest deduction.   If you itemize your deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), you must reduce your home mortgage interest deduction by the amount of the mortgage interest credit shown on Form 8396, line 3. You must do this even if part of that amount is to be carried forward to 2016. For more information about the home mortgage interest deduction, see chapter 23.

Recapture of federal mortgage subsidy.   If you received an MCC with your mortgage loan, you may have to recapture (pay back) all or part of the benefit you received from that program. The recapture may be required if you sell or dispose of your home at a gain during the first 9 years after the date you closed your mortgage loan.

I created this blog to help understand certain basic aspects of U.S. tax law. Of course, each situation is unique and nothing that is on this site will ever replace the expert advice of a tax professional.

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