What taxes can I expect when I sell my home in Florida

The Real Estate Market has really returned in Sarasota, Florida.  Prices have rebounded and buyers are lining up. This is a good time to start thinking about what taxes you can expect when you sell.

First, a disclaimer: taxes are always subject to change. You must always consult with your legal and/or tax advisor or CPA for the most recent and correct tax rules.

Keep in mind I am talking about primary residences (a home you declare as your domicile and in which you live most of the time), second homes or investment property are treated differently. (If you have detailed questions about taxes and the law – please consult a tax or legal professional – I am certainly not one, but I can make some recommendations for you if you wish.)

Principal Residence The government defines a principle residence as one in which you have lived for at least two years of the previous five. (It can be a house, Condo, Boat, or Mobile home – as long as it has sleeping, eating, and toilet facilities) ( See IRS Publication 523 for a full discussion of what classifies as a principal residence).

The IRS give a tax break when you sell your previous residence and allows profits (gain) to be tax free – up to $500,000 for a married couple or surviving spouse up two years after the spouses death, and $250,000 for singles.  Keep in mind this is the PROFIT, so if you bought a house for $200,000, put $100,000 in improvements and then sold it as a couple and netted $800,000 after sales commissions and cost to ready the house for sale, there would be no tax. You can do this every two  years, by the way.

Even if you are not selling your home anytime soon, it’s an excellent idea to keep records of any improvements you make to your house that will increase its cost basis.  Things like a new roof, a room addition, a new kitchen, new windows, and permanent landscaping will most likely qualify.  Maintenance items like new paint and carpet will not add to your adjusted cost basis, but if done and paid for just prior to the sale, the expense may reduce your effective gain on the sale. My advice is to keep records, and if you are in doubt on how to classify an expense consult a tax expert.

Forgiven Debt and Short Sales.  Normally if you sell your home “short” of the amount owed you would be taxed on the portion of the debt that was forgiven. But for a principal residence, the IRS will, under certain conditions  allow up to $2,000,000 in forgiven debt to be tax free. This law is scheduled to be retired at the end of 2013 (it got an extension from 2012, and this may well happen again – but maybe not).  So if you are going to short sale your home, you should start working on it now to get it sold before the end of the year (Primer on Short Sales Here).

What about the new 3.8 tax?  There is is a new tax on investment income that took effect this year.   This tax may take effect on some principal home sales if you exceed the allowable exemption from the tax on gains (over the $500,000 for couples, for example). Here is a link to an article about this new tax (you can read it here).

Special Cases.  The calculations get a bit more complicated if you rented out a portion of your home or took a depreciation deduction of an in-home office.  You will have to recapture the depreciation and prorate the square footage between the home office and the residential portion.

By the way, Florida has no income tax (here is a list by state)

For Commercial Property you should know 1031 tax rules (Click Here)

For Foreigners  there are some things you should know as well – (Click here)

The source to the text above is Gregg Fous, Founder of Market America Realty and Investments, Inc. See more on http://greggfous.com

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