It’s easy to get tunnel vision when selling a home. All you’re focused on is whether you’ll meet your asking price. Yet, if you aren’t taking into consideration the tax implications of selling your home, you may be making a huge mistake.
Here’s what you need to consider before you sell.
1. You Pay Lower Taxes Only When Selling Your Primary Residence Homeowners get lots of tax rebates and credits. You can claim a tax deduction just for buying a new home. When you are selling your home, you need to know that these tax credits apply only if you are selling your primary dwelling, not your rental property or vacation home.
2. You May Exclude Gains IF You Meet Ownership and Use Tests How long you’ve been in your home will have a huge effect on how any gains made from selling your property are treated. Short-term gains get taxed higher than long-term gains. The IRS institutes the ownership and use tests to determine if a homeowner can exclude some or all of the gains from selling a home.
According to the IRS, you have to have both lived in the primary residence that was sold and owned it for a minimum of two years before it can be excluded. On top of that, those two years have to fall within a 5-year window between the date that you bought the property and the date that you sold it.
Say you sell your home for a million dollars. The most that you can exclude from your taxes is $500K if you own the property jointly with someone ($250K for individuals). The rest of the gains have to be counted and taxed as part of your regular income. If you lost money when you sold your home, you cannot deduct the loss from your income; it is just reported as a loss.
3. You Don’t Always Have to Report a Home Sale on Your Taxes Before you disclose any gains on your taxes, make sure that you actually have to report them. If you sold a small parcel of land for perhaps $20K, you may not even have to declare it: the reporting threshold is $250K for an individual.
If you have gains above and beyond that $250K, they have to be reported. Whether to exclude any part of your gains is up to you. You could choose not to exclude any of them. You do have to report gains made from selling a second house, but you can still exclude any gains made from selling your primary home—that is, if you sell them both in the same year. However, You will have to pay taxes for at least one of these dwellings. And you have to report any gains from any rental property that you lease out unless you meet the ownership and use tests discussed
above for rental properties.
For more information and advice on the tax implications of selling a home, call or email me