Sale Of Your Home

Courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service TT-2008-54

If you have a gain from the sale or exchange of your main home, you may be able to exclude all or part of the gain from your income.

Individuals may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of capital gain, and married taxpayers filing joint returns may be able to exclude up to $500,000 of gain each time you sell your main home, but generally no more frequently than once every two years.

To qualify for this exclusion of gain, you must meet ownership and use tests.

  • Ownership Test: During the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale, you must have owned the home for at least 2 years.
  • Use Test: During the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale, you must have lived in the home as your main home at least 2 years.

    If you and your spouse file a joint return for the year of the sale, you can exclude the gain if either of you qualify for the exclusion. But both of you would have to meet the use test to claim the $500,000 maximum amount.

    If you do not meet the ownership and use tests, you may be allowed to exclude a reduced maximum amount of the gain realized on the sale of your home if you sold your home because of health reasons, a change in place of employment, or certain unforeseen circumstances. Unforeseen circumstances include, for example, divorce or legal separation, natural or man-made disasters resulting in a casualty to your home, or an involuntary conversion of your home.

    If you can exclude all the gain from the sale of your home, you do not report the gain on your federal tax return. If you cannot exclude all the gain from the sale of your home, or you choose not to, use Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses, of the Form 1040 to report it.

    For more details and information see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home, available at or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

    Remember that for the genuine IRS Web site be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is

    TaxMama Note:

    Sorry, IRS missed the boat on this one. They don’t address what you do when you get a 1099 showing the sale of the home.

    The fact is, IRS’ computers will be looking to match that 1099 to your tax return. If the corresponding income is not reported on Schedule D, you wil be getting a CP-2000 notice,
    proposing additional tax liability.

    The tax professional stakeholders who meet with IRS in Los Angeles have brought up the idea of redesigning the 1099 form to include information, or a checkbox that spells out that this is the sale of a personal residence. That would alert the computer not to issue a CP-2000, at least for sales prices of $250,000 or less ($500,000 for joint returns). Anyone living at the same address for at least two years would automatically have no gain at those levels.

    Yes, it’s a little simplistic, but it would eliminate at least 75% of CP-2000 notices issued because the sale was missing from Schedule D.