Capital Gains Tax Soars On Primary Residence Sales

I’m sure that most of you know the rules on not being forced to pay Cap Gains Tax for the sale of your primary home. Married couples are shielded from the first $500K in gains and singles don’t pay the tax below a gain of $250K.

But given the meteoric rise in home prices of late, more home sellers are now subject to the tax than ever before. In 2023, 8% of home sellers had a gain in excess of the thresholds. This phenomenon has more than doubled in the past four years.

The problem is that the exemption hasn’t changed since 1997. If it had been indexed for inflation, it would currently stand around $954K on a MFJ Return..

In order to qualify for the exemption, you must have used the home as your primary residence for two of the past five years. For married couples, only one spouse must satisfy the ownership requirement, but both must satisfy the residency test.

In other words, only one spouse must own the home, but both must have lived in it for at least two of those five years. If one spouse decided to move to let’s say Hoboken, for even one month out of the 24 month residency period, then that couple would be disqualified from using the threshold.

Capital gains taxes on the sale of a home work in the same way as they do for the sale of any other asset. We take the sales price, less closing costs, improvements on the home, and the initial cost of the property, to determine the taxable gain.

If after that math, you are over the threshold, you’ll pay a 20% Federal Tax and the 4.95% State of Illinois tax. Wealthier taxpayers may also be subject to the additional 3.95% Obamacare tax on the gain.

Let me leave you with this.

Julie and I have lived in our current home for the past 21 years. It’s a three bedroom, red brick, English Tudor, on a corner with 2.5 lots in Sauganash.

We purchased the home for a little over $400K back in the day. Given the fact that McMansions are going up on every other corner in my neighborhood other than mine, we could easily sell the property somewhere in the low seven figures.

This would, or course, make us subject to the dreaded Capital Gains tax, if we were village idiots. But let’s face it, I didn’t take my stupid pills today.

I bought my home for a song because it needed a lot of work. In the past twenty years, we’ve replaced everything except the walls and the kitchen cabinets.

Keeping those receipts and being able to prove the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we’ve spent on our home over those years is the only way that we will have any chance of not paying a tax on the gain.

What most don’t understand is that any improvement counts towards the repairs on your home helping to lower your tax. If you’re like me, you’re always running to a hardware store dropping $20 here or a couple of hundred there to take care of this or that.

All of that counts. It doesn’t have to be something major like a $20K roof or $25K in energy efficient windows.

It can be a pain, but paying less taxes usually comes down to keeping good records.

We’re all going to get through this. Let’s get through it together.

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Accounting Solutions Ltd.



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