Income Taxes and Selling a Home
Homeowners may qualify to exclude from their income all or part of any gain from the sale of their main home.
To claim the exclusion, the homeowner must meet the ownership and use tests. This means that during the five-year period ending on the date of the sale, the homeowner must have:
- Owned the home for at least two years
- Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years
If there is a gain from the sale of their main home, the homeowner may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from income or $500,000 on a joint return in most cases. Homeowners who can exclude all of the gain do not need to report the sale on their tax return. A main home that sells for lower than purchased is not deductible.
Reporting the sale of a home on a tax return is required if all or part of the gain is not excludable. A sale must also be reported on a tax return if the taxpayer chooses not to claim the exclusion or receives a Form 1099-S, Proceeds from Real Estate Transactions.
There are exceptions to the rules above for persons with a disability, certain members of the military, intelligence community and Peace Corps workers, among others.
Taxpayers who own more than one home can only exclude the gain on the sale of their main home. Taxes must paid on the gain from selling any other home.
Taxpayers who used the first-time homebuyer credit to purchase their home have special rules that apply to the sale.
Taxpayers moving after the sale of their home should update their address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service by filing Form 8822, Change of Address.
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