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  • Writer's pictureNeil Joseph

Hidden Costs: Uncover the True Cost of your Mortgage

Updated: Mar 27

True cost of the Mortgage

Owning a home is often considered a foundation of financial stability and success. In Canada, where homeownership is a significant part of the cultural and economic landscape, the principal residence is often the primary source of wealth and retirement nest egg.  Hence, understanding the intricacies of mortgage costs is crucial. While many factors influence the affordability of homeownership, one aspect often overlooked is the tax implications associated with mortgage interest payments.

The Canadian Tax Landscape

Unlike our neighbours south of the border, Canadians cannot claim tax deductions on interest paid on their principal residence. This means that every dollar paid towards mortgage interest is done so with after-tax dollars, effectively increasing the cost of homeownership.  This unique characteristic of the Canadian tax system has significant implications for homeowners and does not impact every Canadian equally on account of their personal marginal tax rate. 

What is the Marginal Tax Rate and why does it matter?

The marginal tax rate is the percentage of tax applied to the last dollar earned, representing the rate at which additional income is taxed. As individuals earn more income, they move into higher tax brackets, resulting in a higher marginal tax rate. It is a key factor in determining the actual cost of taxes on additional earnings and influences financial decisions such as investments, retirement planning, and the affordability of mortgages. Understanding one's marginal tax rate is essential for effective tax planning and optimizing financial strategies to minimize tax liabilities and maximize after-tax income. 

You can find your marginal tax rate using Turbotax.

Impact on Mortgage Repayments

Let's illustrate the impact of marginal tax rates on mortgage payments with an example:

Suppose two individuals, Alex and Jordan, each have a $300,000 mortgage at the same interest rate of 4%. Alex falls into a higher tax bracket with a marginal tax rate of 40%, while Jordan has a lower marginal tax rate of 25%.

  • For Alex, every dollar paid towards mortgage interest can effectively cost $1.66 ($1 divided by 60%), considering the 40% tax rate. So, for a $10,000 interest payment, the true cost is $16,666.67.

  • While for Jordan, the true cost of the same $10,000 interest payment is $13,333.33 ($10,000 divided by 75%), considering the 25% tax rate.

  • That’s a difference of $3,333.34 for the same mortgage balance at the same interest rate!

As illustrated, the difference in marginal tax rates significantly impacts the actual cost of mortgage interest payments. Homeowners in higher tax brackets end up paying more for the same mortgage compared to those in lower tax brackets.

You can find the True Cost of your Mortgage here.

Journey to Mortgage Freedom

Understanding the true cost of mortgages can help Canadians make informed decisions not only at the time of purchase but through the long years of repayment.  While tax deductions on mortgage interest are not available, there are still strategies to optimize financial planning:

  1. Budgeting Wisely: Factor in the after-tax cost of mortgage interest payments when budgeting for homeownership expenses.

  2. Accounting for Marginal Tax Rates: Assess your marginal tax rate, its impact on mortgage affordability and explore strategies to reduce your taxable income. It might also influence decisions regarding the size and type of mortgage to pursue.

  3. Exploring Other Tax-Efficient Investments: Consider investing in tax-efficient vehicles such as Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) or Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) to mitigate overall tax liabilities.

  4. Utilizing Prepayment Options:  Most Canadian mortgage products provide the ability to pre-pay 15% to 20% of the original mortgage balance each year.  Any such prepayments go towards reducing the mortgage balance and reducing the interest costs incurred subsequently.

  5. Implementing Loan Conversion Strategy: There are 100% legal strategies available to convert the non-tax-deductible mortgage into a tax-deductible loan over time.  This can help reduce the true cost of your mortgage and attain “Mortgage Freedom” faster.

Owning a home is a significant milestone for many Canadians, but it's essential to understand the complete financial picture, including the true cost of mortgages. While Canadians cannot claim tax deductions on mortgage interest payments, awareness of marginal tax rates can help homeowners make informed decisions and plan effectively for their financial future. By considering these factors, Canadians can navigate the complexities of homeownership with greater confidence and clarity.


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