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Tax Aspects of Home Ownership: Selling a Home
Most home sellers don't even have to report the transaction to the IRS. But if you're one of the exceptions, knowing the rules will help you hold down your tax bill.
Start with the purchase price of your home (as described above)
To that starting basis add:
From that upwardly adjusted basis subtract:
The result of all these calculations is the adjusted basis that you will subtract from the selling price to determine your gain or loss. This adjusted basis is what's considered to be your cost of the home for tax purposes.
Basis when you inherit a home
If you inherited your home from your spouse prior to 2010 and you lived in a community property state—Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin—your basis will generally be the fair market value of the home at the time of your spouse's death.
If you lived somewhere other than a community property state, your basis for the inherited portion of the home before 2010 will be the fair market value at your spouse's death multiplied by the percentage of the home your spouse owned. If your spouse solely owned the home, for example, the entire basis would be "stepped up" to date-of-death value. If you and your spouse jointly owned the home, then half of the basis would rise to date-of-death value.
If you inherited your home from someone other than your spouse before 2010, your basis will generally be the fair market value of the home at the time the previous owner died. If the person you inherited the home from died in 2010, special rules apply. Your basis generally is the same as the person you inherited the property from. However, the executor has the option to increase the basis of property passing to a non-spouse by $1.3 million and property passing to a spouse by $3 million. To find out the exact basis of any property you inherit, check with the estate's executor.
Divorce and tax basis
If you received your home from your former spouse as part of a divorce after July 18, 1984, your tax basis generally will be the same as your basis as a couple at the time of the divorce. So if your former spouse was the sole owner of the home, his or her basis becomes your basis. If the place was jointly owned, you now claim the full basis.
If you divorced before July 19, 1984, your basis will generally be the fair market value at the time you received it.
For information on figuring out whether you have a gain or loss on the sale of your home, see IRS Tax Topic 703: Basis of Assets. For general information on the sale of your home, see IRS Publication 523: Selling Your Home, and Tax Topic 701: Sale of Your Home.
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