Can Home Improvements Be Deducted From Capital Gains – Whether you live in a popular residential market like Seattle, San Francisco, or New York, or have simply lived in the same home for several decades, it’s more common than ever for households to realize taxable gains when they sell their home.

Taxable gains from the sale of a principal residence occur when the gain from the sale exceeds the gain exclusion of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a couple. This gain exclusion is available to households that meet the following criteria:

Can Home Improvements Be Deducted From Capital Gains

The gain is calculated by subtracting the selling costs and your adjusted cost base of the property from the selling price. The adjusted base is what you have already paid for the house plus the cost of improvements. Because you are subject to federal capital gains taxes, state taxes (if applicable), and the 3.8% Medicare surtax (in many cases the taxable gain can be significant), the Tracking your improvement history can result in significant savings on your taxes.

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The repairs described in the following section may be included in your upgrades if done as part of a larger renovation or restoration job. The IRS provides the following example: “Replacing broken window panes is a repair, but replacing the same window as part of a project to replace all the windows in your home counts as an improvement.”

The IRS provides the following examples of repairs and maintenance to your home that cannot be included in your adjusted basis:

Whether at the request of a potential buyer, by filing your personal tax return the year of the sale, or by the IRS during an audit, it is important to have proper documentation of all your improvements that have an impact on your base. This includes copies of purchase orders, receipts, canceled checks and any other documents. Create a special folder for this purpose and keep a total of your upgrade history. As with other important financial documents, it is recommended that you also keep a digital copy of this information. If possible, scan all documentation to a secure storage site such as Box or Google Drive. At a minimum, keep a digital copy of your running total (like a spreadsheet) so you don’t have to recreate your improvement history from scratch one day.

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Keep these records for as long as you own the home. It is recommended that you keep all records related to improvements for at least three years after you file your tax returns for the year of sale. There are several owner’s records available on or your local bookstore that can help you organize and track these expenses.

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Be sure to keep your own copies of these records rather than relying on others to keep track of them for you. Many businesses and professionals purge records that are over 10 years old and/or may lose track of them over time.

Prior to 1997, you could defer realizing a gain on the sale of your home by later purchasing a home of equal or greater value. People 55 or older were also eligible to use a one-time $125,000 gain exclusion on their home if they bought a lower-value home after triggering a gain. Home sales after 1997 were no longer subject to these rules (unable to defer gain) and instead benefited from the more favorable gain exclusion described above.

If you sold your old home before mid-1997 and delayed paying tax on any gains at that time by moving your base to your existing property, that base affects your home base. This means you also need to have proper records to prove your old home base, especially since the gain can be much larger, making it taxable.

Any depreciation previously taken on your tax return, whether for your primary residence being a rental (at one time or another) or a home office (for business purposes) must be recovered when you sell your property. This means that the amount of depreciation taken to offset previous years’ income will not be protected by the earnings exclusion and will instead be taxed at a rate of up to 25%. The technical term for this is section 1250 unrecovered gain.

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No client or potential client should assume that this article serves as a receipt or substitute for personal advice from or from a tax professional. The client or potential client is responsible for determining whether any strategy discussed is appropriate or appropriate for them based on their financial or tax situation. The client or potential client should consult a financial or tax professional regarding their specific situation. Written by Rae Hartley Beck Written by Rae Hartley BeckArrow Right Contributing Editor Rae Hartley Beck is a writer and editor with over eight years of experience in personal finance. His work has recently appeared in , MoneyWise and Investopedia. Rae specializes in credit card rewards, investments, real estate, home improvement, loans and financial advice for Millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha and their parents. Rae Hartley Beck

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Editing by Tori RubloffEditing by Tori RubloffArrow Right Editor, Personal Finance Tori Rubloff is an Editor at , where she manages editors, edits feature articles, and oversees the production of timely, data-driven content that empowers readers to make informed decisions about their finances. Connect with Tori Rubloff on LinkedIn Linkedin Tori Rubloff

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Capital Gains: Definition, Rules, Taxes, And Asset Types

Of course, you want to make a nice profit on your house when you sell it. But watch out for a bite on your earnings: capital gains tax. If your home has increased in value significantly, you could be liable for a large sum when you pay your annual income tax.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid or reduce capital gains tax when selling a home so you can keep as much profit as possible in your pocket. Here’s everything you need to know.

Capital gains tax is the amount of tax due on the profit (i.e. capital gain) you realize on an investment

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