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Do I Pay Tax On Selling My House

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Can Exclude One Sale Every Two Years

Do I pay tax when I sell my home?

Youre only allowed to exclude gain on the sale of a home once every two years. This is true unless the reduced gain exclusion rules apply. You usually cant exclude the gain on the sale of a home if both of these apply:

  • You sold another home at a gain within the past two years.
  • You excluded all or part of that gain during the two-year period ending on the date of the sale.

If you cant exclude the gain, include the entire amount in your taxable income.

Why You Have To Report The Sale

For the sale of a principal residence in 2016 and subsequent years, the CRA will only allow the principal residence exemption if you report the disposition and designation of your principal residence on your income tax and benefit return. If you forget to make this designation in the year of the disposition, it is very important to ask the CRA to amend your income tax return for that year. The CRA will be able to accept a late designation in certain circumstances, but a penalty may apply.

Ds It Matter If I Have Used My Home To Earn Income

Some people use their home to produce income, either by renting out part of the property, or by running a business from home. If you tick one of those boxes, you may be forsaking part of your CGT exemption. This is because you can’t typically obtain a full main residence exemption if you used any part of your home to produce income during all or part of the period you owned it.

People who simply work from home as part of their job are not affected.

If you are impacted by the exemption, either you or your accountant will need to calculate how much of the profit on disposal of your house is taxable. In most cases, this is the proportion of the floor area of the home that is set aside to produce income and takes into account the period the home was used to produce income.

Here are some simple case studies to understand exactly how this works:

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When Do You Pay Capital Gains On A Home Sale

Your $250,000 or $500,000 exclusion typically goes out the window, which means you pay tax on the whole gain, if any of these factors are true:

  • The house wasnt your principal residence.

  • You owned the property for less than two years in the five-year period before you sold it.

  • You didnt live in the house for at least two years in the five-year period before you sold it.

  • You already claimed the $250,000 or $500,000 exclusion on another home in the two-year period before the sale of this home.

  • You bought the house through a like-kind exchange in the past five years.

  • You are subject to expatriate tax.

Still not sure whether you qualify for the exclusion? Our tool might help otherwise, scroll down for ways to avoid capital gains tax on a home sale:

If it turns out that all or part of the money you made on the sale of your house is taxable, you need to figure out what capital gains tax rate applies.

  • Short-term capital gains tax rates typically apply if you owned the asset for less than a year. The rate is equal to your ordinary income tax rate, also known as your tax bracket.

  • Long-term capital gains tax rates typically apply if you owned the asset for more than a year. The rates are much less onerous many people qualify for a 0% tax rate. Everybody else pays either 15% or 20%. It depends on your filing status and income.

Tax Matters When Selling A House

Do I pay capital gains tax when I sell my house?

The tax rules for home sellers can be very complicated. They are summarized below, but you should also download IRA Publication 523, Selling Your Home, from the IRS web site:

If you sell your primary residence at a profit, you may be able to exclude that profit from your taxable income. Unfortunately, you cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home. Worse, if you’re contemplating abandoning your home or it is likely to be foreclosed, you need to check with a tax professional to see if you’ll owe taxes as a result.

Here are the rules, in brief.

$250,000 or $500,000 exclusion on the sale of a primary residence.

Individuals can exclude up to $250,000 in profit from the sale of a main home as long as you have owned the home and lived in the home for a minimum of two years. Those two years do not need to be consecutive. In the 5 years prior to the sale of the house, you need to have lived in the house as your principal residence for at least 24 months in that 5-year period.

You can use this 2-out-of-5 year rule to exclude your profits each time you sell or exchange your main home. Generally, you can claim the exclusion only once every two years. Some exceptions do apply.

Calculating your cost basis and capital gain. The formula for calculating your cost basis on your main home is as follows:

Purchase price

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What If You Earn More Than The Limit

We asked Robert McGarty, a top Seattle real estate agent, just how often his seller clients end up paying taxes on their home sale. And in his experience a vast majority of sellers dont exceed the exclusion cap.

When they do exceed the cap, it usually happens if the homeowner has been there for a long time, and in most cases theyve done a lot of improvements to help offset that gain.

Residence Is Part Personal Residence Part Business / Rental

You might use part of your property as a home and part of it for business or to produce income.


  • Apartment building where you live in one unit and rent out the other units
  • Store building with upstairs apartment where you live

If you sell the entire property, the IRS considers this a sale of two properties. Report the business portion on Form 4797. Report any taxable personal portion on Form 8949. You can exclude the gain only on the portion used as a home.

Allocate these items between the personal portion and the business portion of the sale:

  • Sales price
  • Adjusted basis of property you sold

Attach a statement to your return showing:

  • Total selling price of the property
  • Method you used to allocate the amounts between the business and personal portions

However, you cant exclude the part of the gain equal to any depreciation allowed or allowable after May 6, 1997.

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Taxes On The Sale Of An Investment Property Or Vacation Home

If you sell an investment property or vacation home, you generally won’t qualify for the home sale gain exclusion. The only possible exception is if you lived in the property for at least two of the previous five years. Otherwise, any net gain would be taxable.

Also, if you depreciated the property during your ownership period, you’ll have to pay depreciation recapture tax on it as part of the sale. Without getting too deep into a discussion on depreciation, the basic idea is that investment property owners can deduct the cost of the property itself over time in order to reduce their taxable rental income. The caveat is that once the property is sold, the IRS effectively taxes this benefit back through a tax known as depreciation recapture.

Depreciation recapture is taxed at a rate of 25% of your cumulative depreciation deductions. In other words, if you’ve claimed $100,000 worth of depreciation on an investment property over the years, you can expect to pay depreciation recapture tax of $25,000 upon the sale.

It’s important to note that even if your investment property or vacation home does qualify to exclude some or all of the capital gains, depreciation recapture can never be excluded from taxation, unless you use a 1031 exchange to defer it to a later date .

Get Every Deduction You Deserve

Do I Have To Pay Tax When I Sell My House?

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    What Is The Capital Gains Tax Allowance

    You only have to pay capital gains tax on gains that exceed your annual allowance. The tax-free allowance is currently £12,300 per person in 2020-21 . This means your property can increase by this amount before any CGT will be payable on the sale. Any amount above this will incur CGT property rates.

    When In Doubt Ask The Experts

    As a final point, it’s worth emphasizing that capital gains taxes can be a rather complicated subject and there is quite a bit of gray area. Maybe you aren’t sure if your vacation home counts as an investment property for 1031 exchange purposes. Or maybe you and your spouse file joint tax returns now, but you weren’t yet married at the time you bought your primary residence, and you aren’t sure if you qualify to exclude $250,000 or $500,000.

    Of course, these are just two examples of possible areas of confusion, but the point is that if you run into anything you aren’t 100% certain about, it’s important to consult an experienced, qualified tax professional. The IRS tends to take a closer look at high-dollar tax breaks, and few personal tax breaks are more potentially lucrative than the $500,000 home sale tax exclusion or the ability to defer any amount of capital gains through a 1031 exchange, so it’s very important to be sure you’re following the rules.

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    How Long Do You Have To Reinvest Money From The Sale Of A House

    If youâre an investor and youâre hoping to avoid capital gains tax by purchasing another investment property, you may qualify for a 1031 exchange. A 1031 exchange allows you to purchase a new property within 180 days from the time of the first property sale. Failure to do so will result in capital gains tax being owed. Read our guide to capital gains taxes on investment properties.

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    Leave A Comment * Required

  • ElliJanuary 5, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    I purchased a run down flat in 2017 for my son to live in. It was in a poor state but it was all I could afford I paid for all the renovations and he did the work. I live in elderly persons rented accommodation. Two years later he moved out and I put a tenant in there. The tenant moved out after 17 months and the flat was sold seven months later. I realise that I am liable for CGT but wondered if I qualify for private residence relief or letting relief. Kind regards.

  • LinaNovember 2, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Dear Sirs,

    Based upon MUMs story below, there is a question.

    Story:1. MUM owns a flat, cannot get a loan / mortgage .2. After a transfer of 50% of equity to her SON £60000 mortgage was approved3. Estimated value of the flat £1600004. A few years later MUM alone repaid the mortgage in full5. MUM wants the flat back in her name only again6. SON is willing to oblige without any consideration7. Estimated value of the flat now is £2000008. SON lives now in another property that he owns.

    Question :If SON has to pay CGT, how much would it be, based upon the above information?

    Kind regards

  • September 28, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Can one find out what building costs psf/psm were in 1987?

  • Raj jeevarathinamJune 21, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    If i sell my buy to let house and Buy another house immediately with what I gained, do I need to pay capital gains tax?

  • AbiMay 28, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    If we sell a second house we have but immediately buy another, do you pay capital gains tax?

  • Home Offices: A Tax Drawback

    The exclusion does not apply to depreciation allowable on residences after May 6, 1997. If you are in a high tax bracket and plan to live in your home for a long time, taking depreciation deductions for a home office is quite valuable right now. But if not, you might want to reconsider using a portion of your home as an office, because all depreciation deductions you take will be taxed at 25% when you sell the house.

    Example: A married couple sells a home with an adjusted basis of $100,000 for $600,000. Over the years, they had taken $50,000 in depreciation deductions for a home office.

    Sales Price: $600,000Adjusted Basis – $100,000Taxable gain = $500,000

    Of that gain, $450,000 is tax-free the $50,000 taken as depreciation deductions is subject to 25% capital gains tax.

    Read Also: Can Home Improvement Be Tax Deductible

    Do You Have To Report Your Home Sale Profits To The Irs

    In most cases, a homeowner isnt required to report the profits from the sale of a home on their tax returns. It is required only in the following scenarios:

    • The capital gains exceed those thresholds mentioned earlier ,
    • The homeowner has owned the property for less than two years, or
    • The homeowner has claimed a tax exemption for another property in the last two years.

    If you fall into any of these three categories, you would have to report the sale on a Schedule D Form 1040 or 1040-SR.

    According to IRS Publication 523, youd also need to report any other income from your home sale related to:

    • Selling personal property such as furniture, drapes, lawn equipment or appliances, as part of the property sale
    • Sales of expired options
    • Forgiven mortgage debt

    For some home sales, the real estate closing agent will submit a Form 1099-S to the seller and to the IRS, although the IRS doesnt require that form if the capital gains are less than the $250,000 or $500,000 cap.

    If you do happen to receive a copy of the form but you meet the criteria for the tax exclusion, its still not necessary to report the sale on your income tax return. However, make sure to keep all of your paperwork so youre prepared if the IRS contacts you about the 1099-S.

    There are countless details involved in selling a home, including the tax implications. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, speak with your real estate agent or CPA to find out what, if any, taxes you will have to pay on any profits earned.

    Reporting Your Home Sale On Your Taxes

    Do I Pay Capital Gains Tax When Selling My Home?

    If your profit on your home sale is less than the exemption amount and you meet the other qualifications, you do not have to report your home sale on your tax return. If you exceed or dont qualify the exemption, you will need to report your home sale. Any profit that exceeds or does not qualify for the exemption is taxed as a capital gain under Schedule D.

    You will also need to report your home sale if you receive a Form 1099-S. This form is distributed when you make a home sale. That is, unless you assure your real estate closing company that you will not owe taxes on your profit. If you receive a form even though you qualify for the exemption, this doesnt necessarily mean you owe taxes. However, it does mean that you will have to report the sale.

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    If You Bought Your Home

    If youre buying a home, the cost basis in the property starts with the purchase price. Certain closing costs for the home are also included. If you have any expenses you put into the property for remodeling or construction that adds to the value of the property or prolongs its life, those are also part of your cost basis. Finally, if you pay any taxes that the seller was supposed to pay, this also counts as part of your basis.

    Heres a quick example to give you a better understanding of how this works: You buy a property for $200,000. There are $10,000 in closing costs. You pay $5,000 in taxes which would otherwise be owed by the seller. Finally, you put $20,000 in for remodeling. That makes your total cost basis in the property $235,000.

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