In many cases, the answer to this question is a resounding YES. Eliminating debt is a worthy goal and a key factor in building wealth. Removing that monthly obligation will free up funds that can be used to build up your retirement nest egg. There is also an emotional side to this decision. The fear of running out of money in retirement is very real for many retirees and having your mortgage out of the way would no doubt help to alleviate this fear. The peace of mind that comes from owning your house mortgage-free cannot be quantified.
Tax reform has also changed the dynamics of this financial decision. As you approach retirement and continue to whittle down your mortgage balance, more of your payment is applied to principal and less to interest. Starting in 2018, the standard deduction allowed against your taxable income has increased significantly. For a married couple filing jointly, the standard deduction is $ 24,000 with an additional $1,300 per person if over age 65. This combination of factors means that for many retirees, there will be no tax benefit from keeping a mortgage.
However, everyone needs to consider their own personal circumstances before making this decision. Obviously, if you have other higher interest debt, you would want to pay that off first. Also, one would want to have a sufficient amount of cash reserves in the bank so that the payoff of your mortgage balance would not drain your cash position.
There is no doubt that a paid off mortgage will enhance your retirement. With tax incentives off the table, it just makes sense to put this obligation to bed.
*The information in this blog post is general in nature and not intended as specific advice. Please consult a tax advisor to see how this information applies to your specific situation.