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So, are points paid at closing to buy down the loan's interest rate deductible?

Yes. Since you are buying down the rate for a purchase, this is considered 'pre-paid interest' and is fully deductible in the year you pay the points. As an FYI - if you ever refinance, the deduction for points paid to buy down the rate for the refi must be done over the life of the loan.

Also, if we opt not to deduct them this year (2011), can we defer taking the deduction until 2012's taxes when we'll more likely be able to deduct the full year's mortgage interest?

No. The deduction must be taken in the year you pay the points.

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