Q: Last year, I completed some home improvement projects inside and outside of my home including paving.

It cost about $3,000 and I paid the contractors with my credit card checks.

I tried to file the expenses this past February on my federal income tax form but my tax preparer told me that I could not do that unless if I had taken out a home improvement loan.

Where do I get this home improvement loan? Can I still take out a home improvement loan now and then file for the expenses or do I have to wait until next April 15th.

A: When your tax preparer refers to a “home improvement loan,” he is referring to something called a home equity loan (HEL) or home equity line of credit (HELOC) or some other loan secured by your home and taken out for the purpose of improving your home. If you use these loan funds to pay for improvements made to your home, you can write off the interest expense on your federal income taxes but only if you itemize your deductions on your federal return.

No one can write off the interest paid on credit card debt, even if you use the cash to buy a home or make improvements on the home.

What you can do now if get a home equity loan or line of credit and use the proceeds to pay off any credit card debt you’ve built up. Not only will pay less in interest, but you may be able to write off the interest on next year’s tax return.

Be sure to keep track of all of these capital expenditures. When you sell your home, you can subtract them (plus any other costs of sale and cost of purchase) from the sales price of your house to come up with the tax basis of the property.