I've spent my adult life pursuing two separate professional careers, one in law enforcement and the other in taxation. I've been preparing tax returns in California for over twenty years, and have represented clients in front of the Internal Revenue Service, the Franchise Tax Board, and the Board of Equalization during that time. My clients appreciate the fact that I don't try to scare them into paying exorbitant fees just because the IRS wants money from them. Taxation is a complex area of the law, however, and you don't want to face the well trained and experienced agents and lawyers that the IRS employs without the assistance of an attorney who knows the law as well, or better, than they do. I will always try to resolve your case at the earliest possible stage and the lowest possible level; but if going to tax court becomes necessary, rest assured we'll be prepared. If you receive a letter from any of the taxing authorities, call me first. The call is free, and you owe it to yourself be pro-active with tax matters.
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- District Court for the Central District of California
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- Whittier Law School
- J.D. (1989)
- Q. Selling my house will I be taxed based on the amount of the sale or the amount minus mortgage and capital improvements?
- A: It depends. If you the house was your principal residence for two of the five years prior to the date you will sell it, then you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 if married filing jointly). If you have not used the house as your principal residence for two of the last five years, a capital gains tax will apply. To determine the gain, you have to know the "basis" of your house. If you purchased the house in a conventional real estate transaction, your basis is the purchase price plus costs (broker fees, etc.) plus any capital improvements you've made (new roof, room addition, driveway, etc.). The difference between the sale price (minus costs of sale) and basis = gain.
- Q. I have been living alone in my parents' home for the last 4 years. Will they have to pay capital gains tax if they sell
- A: Your analysis is correct: in order to exclude the tax on up to $500,000 of gain, your parents would have had to have lived in the house, as their primary residence, for two of the five years before the sale. Yes, the rule applies even though an immediate family member is now living in the house. There are two components to this rule: Ownership and Use. You have to own the property for two years; you have to live in it as your principal residence for two years. Those two year periods must occur some time within the five years preceding the sale date. As far as a solution, the obvious one is for you guys to switch houses for two years. It depends on how long they are willing to hang onto that house. There are other alternatives, of course, that involve gifting, trusts, and wills but addressing those items would require much more than an answer in this forum. You should speak with a tax and/or real estate professional. Good luck!