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You need to get the January 2002 payment, which you plan to make in December 2001, to the mortgagee in December and clearly mark it as the 1/2002 payment if you want a prayer of having the interest included on your 1098.

Does it have to show up on the 1098 to count?

Obviously having the right amount of interest on the form reduces the chance of an audit being triggered by mismatched numbers. But if one pays the January mortgage bill by December 31 and has a registered mail receipt to prove it, isn't that good enough to deduct the interest in the previous year?
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