With the housing market beginning to show signs of coming off life support, you may begin to think about moving. The good news is that, even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.
Here are 10 tax tips to consider when planning a sale of your principal residence:
1. If you sell your home at a gain, you may be able to exclude part or all of the profit from your income. This rule generally applies if you owned and used the property as your main home for at least two out of the five years before the date of sale.
2. You normally can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return). This excluded gain is also not subject to the new 3.8 percent net investment income tax, which is effective now.
3. If you can exclude all of the gain, you are not required to report the sale of your home on your tax return.
4. If you cannot exclude all of the gain, or you choose not to exclude it, you must report the sale of your home on your tax return.
5. Use the worksheets in IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to figure the gain (or loss) on the sale and the amount of gain you can exclude.
6. Generally, you can exclude a gain from the sale of only one main home per two-year period.
7. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is usually the one you live in most of the time.
8. Special rules may apply when you sell a home for which you received the first-time homebuyer credit. See Publication 523 for details.
9. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of a personal residence.
10. When you sell your home and move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service. File Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS.
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