This column is devoted to questions on real estate submitted by Deseret News readers to the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. If you have questions about real estate, write "Questions," c/o Debbie Cox, Salt Lake Board of Realtors, P.O. Box 9228, Salt Lake City, UT 84109.

Q: We purchased a home in 1987 and paid the two-point loan fee by separate check so it would be tax-deductible interest. However, in 1988, when we refinanced our home, we were told by the loan officer that the points would not be tax deductible, even if we paid them by separate check. We are now in the process of preparing our taxes and are caught in the dilemma of whether to deduct the points paid for our refinance in 1988 or not.A: Your question provides an excellent opportunity to explain when mortgage loan fees are tax deductible as interest and when they must be amortized (deducted) over the life of the mortgage.

If the purpose of the mortgage is to buy or improve your personal residence, and if the loan fee is paid to the lender by separate check and is not subtracted from the loan proceeds, then the loan fee qualifies as tax-deductible itemized interest in the year paid.

However, if the mortgage is for any purpose other than buying or improving your home, or if the loan fee was not paid to the lender by separate check and was deducted from the loan proceeds, then it must be amortized and deducted over the life of the loan.

You may wish to consult with a professional tax preparer to ensure that you claim all of the deductions that you are entitled to and to assist you with the preparation of the necessary amortization and paper work.