How Much Is Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate? What Homeowners Need to Know to Avoid It

I know…tax season is over (hopefully you got yours done already!!)  But this question about CAPTIAL GAINS TAX is a question I get on a regular  basis from my clients —  about what it is and does it apply to me?  This was an article I recently sent out in my monthly ‘paper’ newsletter (I know so  old school) to my mailing list.  It was super helpful for me to understand what it actually is and how it works — I hope you find it as informative.  

 

What is capital gains tax? This is a prime question that might creep up when you sell your home for more than you paid for it. That’s good news for you, but the downside is, you may have to pay taxes on those profits in the form of capital gains tax. Yep, just as you pay income tax and sales tax, home sale profits are subject to taxation, too.

Complicating matters is the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is changing the rules. So if there’s ever a time to brush up on all things capital gains, it’s right now. Here’s what you need to know.

What is capital gains tax—and who pays it?

In a nutshell, capital gains tax is a duty levied on property and possessions you’ve held onto for more than a year that you sell for a profit—including your home.

The IRS gives each person, no matter how much the person earns, a $250,000 tax-free exemption for a primary residence.

“So if you and your spouse buy your home for $100,000, and years later sell for up to $600,000, you won’t owe any capital gains tax,” says New York attorney Anthony S. Park. However, you do have to meet specific requirements to claim this exclusion:

  • The home must be your primary residence.
  • You must have owned the home for at least two years.
  • You must have lived in the home for at least two of the past five years.

If you don’t meet all these requirements, you may be able to take a partial exclusion for capital gains tax. For more information, consult a tax adviser or IRS Publication 523.

How much capital gains tax will you have to pay?

For capital gains over that $250,000-per-person exemption, just how much of a bite will Uncle Sam take out of your real estate sale? In the past, that depended on your tax bracket. Under the new tax law, capital gains rates are now based on your income, explains Park. Let’s break it down.

Single Filer

Married Filing Jointly

Head of Household Capitol Gains Tax Percentage
Earning Less Than $39,375 $78,750 $52,750 0%
Earning Between $39,376 – $434,550 $78,751 – $488,850 $52,751 – $461,700 15%
Earning More Than $434,550+ $488,850+ $461,700+ 20%

Don’t forget, your state may have its own capital gains tax. And very high earners may owe an additional 3.8% net investment income tax.

Do home improvements reduce capital gains tax?

How much capital gains tax you’ll pay may also be reduced because of home
improvements you’ve made. The money you spent on any home improvements—such as replacing the roof, building a deck, replacing the flooring, or
finishing a basement—can be added to the initial price of your home to give you the adjusted cost basis of your home.

For example, if you purchased your home for $200,000 in 1990 and sold it for $550,000, but over the past 29 years have spent $100,000 on home improvements, that $100,000 would be subtracted from the sales price of your home this year. Instead of owing capital gains taxes on the $350,000 profit from the sale, you would owe taxes on $250,000. In that case, you’d meet the requirements for a capital gains tax exclusion and owe nothing.

Make sure to save receipts of any renovations and repairs, since they can save you big-time come tax filing season.

How capital gains tax works on inherited homes

What if you’re selling a home you’ve inherited from family members who’ve passed away? The IRS also gives a “free step-up in basis” when you inherit a family house. But what does that mean?

Let’s say Mom and Dad bought the family home years ago for $100,000, and it’s worth $1 million when they die and leave it to you. When you sell, your purchase price (or “basis”) is not the $100,000 your folks paid, but instead the $1 million it’s worth on their date of death.

How to avoid capital gains tax as a real estate investor

If the home you’re selling is a second home (i.e., vacation home) rather than your primary residence, avoiding capital gains tax is a bit more complicated. But it’s still possible. The best way to
avoid a capital gains tax if you’re an investor is by doing a 1031
exchange. This allows you to sell your property and buy another one without recognizing any potential gain.

“In essence, you’re swapping one investment asset for another,” White says. He cautions, however, that there are very strict rules regarding timelines and guidelines with this transaction, so be sure to check them with an accountant.

If you’re opting out of the rental property investment business and putting your money in another venture, then you’ll owe the capital gains taxes on the profit.

Source: https://bit.ly/2CDrl5n

Posted on April 24, 2019 at 11:01 pm
Denise Perkins | Category: Denise Perkins, Helpful Home Tips, Home Sweet Home, In the News, Market Stats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fall into Winter — home checklist of things to do before winter sets in!

Checklist of 10 Things You Gotta Do Before Winter Sets In

Such as look for roof leaks before the first winter snow. Preventative maintenance is key.

 

When the last of summer’s heat is a faint memory, and you’re pulling out your hoodies (and puffy coats!!) more than your shorts, it’s time to tackle a few simple chores that’ll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.

This fall checklist helps:

Fall maintenance checklist Image: HL

#1 Clean and Stow Your Mower

If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

 

#2 Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

 

#3 Drain Your Sprinkler System

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

  1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
  2. Shut off the automatic controller.
  3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
  4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

 

#4 Seal Air Leaks

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

 

#5 De-Gunk Your Gutters

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

 

#6 Eyeball Your Roof

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

 

#7 Direct Your Drainage

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

 

#8 Check Your Furnace

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

 

#9 Prune Plants

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

 

#10 Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

Related: Maintenance for the Easily Overwhelmed

Posted on December 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm
Denise Perkins | Category: Eastside, Helpful Home Tips, Home Sweet Home, North Kirkland, Redmond, Uncategorized, Woodinville | Tagged , , , ,

Spring Home Checklist

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

It’s time to check for damage and prepare for hot weather ahead.

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. With the threat of winter storms past, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get a spring home checklist on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).

 

 

Contact Denise Perkins for more information
Posted on May 10, 2018 at 11:15 pm
Denise Perkins | Category: Helpful Home Tips, Home Sweet Home, In the News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,