Property Tax Deduction: Rules, How You Can Save More

Property tax bills can be deductible. Find your tax records, add up the stuff that counts and watch the calendar.
Tina Orem
By Tina Orem 
Edited by Chris Hutchison

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

The property tax deduction is one of many benefits of being a homeowner, but you don’t need to own a house to get this tax break — there are other ways to qualify.

What’s deductible

You may deduct up to $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately) for a combination of property taxes and either state and local income taxes or sales taxes.

You might be able to deduct property and real estate taxes you pay on your:

  • Primary home.

  • Co-op apartment (see IRS publication 530 for special rules).

  • Vacation homes.

  • Land.

  • Property outside the United States.

  • Cars, RVs and other vehicles.

  • Boats.

» MORE: Want to know what property tax actually is and how it's calculated? Check out our property tax primer.

What’s not deductible

The IRS doesn’t allow property tax deductions for:

  • Property taxes on property you don’t own.

  • Property taxes you haven’t paid yet.

  • Assessments for building streets, sidewalks, or water and sewer systems in your neighborhood. (Assessments or taxes for maintenance or repair of those things are deductible, though.)

  • The portion of your tax bill that’s actually for services — water or trash, for example.

  • Transfer taxes on the sale of house.

  • Homeowners association assessments.

  • Payments on loans that finance energy-saving home improvements. (The interest portion of your payment might be deductible as home mortgage interest, though.)

  • More than $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately) for a combination of property taxes and either state and local income taxes or sales taxes.

  • Federal: $24.95 to $64.95. Free version available for simple returns only.

  • State: $29.95 to $44.95.

  • All filers get access to Xpert Assist for free until April 7.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 25% off federal and state filing costs.

  • Federal: $39 to $119. Free version available for simple returns only.

  • State: $49 per state.

  • TurboTax Live packages offer review with a tax expert.

Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to $15 on TurboTax.

  • Federal: $29.99 to $84.99. Free version available for simple returns only.

  • State: $36.99 per state.

  • Online Assist add-on gets you on-demand tax help.

How to take the property tax deduction

  • Find your tax records. Your local taxing authority can give you a copy of the tax bill for your home. But you should also scrutinize the registration paperwork on your car, RV, boat or other movable assets. You might be paying property taxes on those, too, and the portion based on the value of the vehicle is likely deductible.

  • Exclude the stuff that doesn’t count. You can deduct a property tax only if it’s assessed uniformly at a similar rate for similar property in the community. The proceeds have to help the community, not pay for a special privilege or service for you. Sometimes counties make assessments for improvements. Those may not be deductible if they are not a tax.

  • Use Schedule A when you file your return. That’s where you figure your deduction. Note: This means you’ll need to itemize your taxes instead of taking the standard deduction. It’ll probably take more time to do your taxes if you itemize, but you could end up with a lower tax bill. (Go here for help deciding whether to itemize.)

  • Deduct your property taxes in the year you pay them. Sounds simple, but it can be tricky. There are two ways people typically pay property taxes on a house: They write a check once or twice a year when the bill comes, or they set aside money each month in an escrow account when they pay the mortgage. Don’t let the second method fool you — deduct only the taxes actually paid during the year.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that you're paying the tax when you give the money to your escrow company. With your mortgage payment, property tax becomes deductible when the mortgage company pays the county.

If you bought or sold your house this year

  • If you owned taxable property for part of the year before selling it, you can usually deduct the taxes attributable to the time you owned the property. So, if you sold your house in July, you would deduct the first half of the year’s property taxes on the house, and the buyer would deduct the second half.

  • Renters might qualify for a property tax deduction on their state taxes.

Learn more ways to capitalize on your home

How to get a bigger property tax deduction

1. Prepay your property taxes

If your semiannual tax bill is due next year but you pay it early — say, this December — you might be able to deduct it this year instead of next year.

2. Save your registration statements

When it’s time to renew your registration on a vehicle, check if any part of the fee is actually property tax. There could be a tax deduction hiding in there.

3. Scrutinize your closing paperwork

If you bought or sold a house, go back and look at what you paid at closing for property taxes. It’s easy to overlook. Plus, after the tax assessor has a chance to revalue the property, you might get a second tax bill.

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.