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Selling Your Home? Tips to Keep the Taxes Down

Even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

If you’re selling your main home sometime this year, the IRS has some helpful tips for you. Even if you make a profit from the sale of your home, you may not have to report it as income.

Here are 10 tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.


  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’ve 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 Net Investment Income Tax, which is effective in 2013.

  3. If you can exclude all of the gain, you probably don’t need to report the sale of your home on your tax return.

  4. If you can’t exclude all of the gain, or you choose not to exclude it, you’ll need to report the sale of your home on your tax return. You’ll also have to report the sale if you received a Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions.

  5. Use IRS e-file to prepare and file your 2013 tax return next year. E-file software will do most of the work for you. If you prepare a paper return, use the worksheets in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to figure the gain (or loss) on the sale. The booklet also will help you determine how much of the 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 your main home.

  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.


For more information on this topic, see Publication 523. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


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