Selling a Home? 6 Tax Tips to Save You Money

If you're selling a home, check out Money Girl's tips to see if you're eligible for a tax break. 

Laura Adams, MBA
2-minute read


If you sold or are about to sell your home, you’re eligible for a nice tax break—if you make money on the sale.

You can exclude all or a portion of the gain you receive on a home sale from your income. That means you avoid paying a massive amount of taxes, in certain situations.

Here are 6 tips to help you understand the rules:

  1. You must pass an ownership and use test. If you owned and lived in your home for at least 2 out of the 5 years prior to a home sale, you’re eligible to exclude a limited amount of gain on the sale from your income.
  2. Exclusions apply only to main homes. If you own more than one home, you can exclude the gain on the sale of your main residence only. Your main home is the one you live in most of the time.
  3. There is an exclusion limit. You can exclude up to $250,000 of a home sale gain from income or up to $500,000 if you’re married and file a joint tax return.
  4. No reporting may be required. If your gain doesn’t exceed the exclusion amounts above, you don’t even need to report the home sale on your income tax return.
  5. Gains above the exclusion are taxable. Any gain you make that exceeds the exclusion amount is taxable and must be reported on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
  6. Home losses are not deductible. If you sell your main home for a loss, it cannot be deducted from your taxable income.

For complete information, as well as exceptions to the 2-year ownership rule, refer to IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home. It includes worksheets to help you figure the amount of gain you’re eligible to exclude from tax.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.