Selling your home often takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions – excitement, hopefulness, and at times, stress. When you’re wrapped up in searching for homes and planning your move, it can be easy to overlook seemingly small but important details of the sale. One of these aspects are the tax implications involved with selling a property. It’s crucial to be aware of and have a true understanding of what these could mean for your finances as you begin your new chapter of homeownership.

We break down the various tax considerations when selling a house, ensuring you have the knowledge you need to help you avoid potential financial distress in the future, and allow you to do what you really want to do: to enjoy your new home!

Capital Gains Tax

In real estate, capital gains tax is the tax a seller pays on the profit they make from selling a property. If the property being sold is the seller’s primary residence, they may be eligible to be exempt from this tax. However, specific conditions need to be met in order to qualify, such as living in the home for a certain number of years. There are also limits on how much of the profit can be exempted. The rate all depends on how long the seller has owned the property, their yearly income level, amongst other factors. You can figure out your capital gains by using this formula: subtract what you originally paid for the property from the selling price (but also make sure you’re considering any home improvements or extra expenses from the sale). There are all sorts of strategies you can pursue to add value to your home while also lowering your tax bill such as timing the sale right, investing in home improvements while you’re still an owner, as well as finding areas where you can lower certain selling expenses. Consult with your trusted REALTOR® to determine which tactics will be best for you and your unique situation.

1031 Exchange

For owners of investment or commercial property, another route sellers can take is a 1031 exchange. This is a tax-deferred transaction that allows the owners to sell one property, and then reinvest those proceeds into another similar property. As a result, the capital gains taxes are deferred. In order to qualify, both involved properties must either be used for investment or business purposes, meaning a 1031 exchange cannot be done for primary residences. Additionally, both properties must be of “like-kind” (or similar in purpose). The main benefit of a 1031 exchange is of course to defer the capital gains tax, but as a result, it gives the investors more of an opportunity to keep more of their equity working for them. This transaction happens at a rapid pace as the replacement property needs to be identified within 45 days of selling the original, the new property needs to successfully close within 180 days. If you’re considering these options, it’s crucial to understand the following:

  1. Research: It’s so important to do your due diligence and ensure that your 1031 exchange qualifies for a tax deferral. To protect yourself the most, make sure to first consult with a financial professional
  2. Potential Drawbacks: While 1031 exchanges offer significant tax advantages, there are variables to consider, such as the limited pool of eligible replacement properties and the complex rules and timelines involved.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

When selling property, understanding mortgage debt forgiveness becomes crucial for the owners. Mortgage debt forgiveness happens when a lender forgives a portion of the outstanding mortgage balance. While this can provide some relief, it may also come with tax implications. The IRS typically considers the forgiven debt as taxable income, potentially leading to tax obligations in the future. However, there are certain exceptions available. For instance, some property owners may be eligible for an exclusion on forgiven debt if it’s related to their primary residence, up to a certain limit. Additionally, if the forgiven debt is the result of a bankruptcy, it may not be taxable. It’s important to complete the necessary documentation to report the forgiven debt on taxes, and that the information is reported accurately. Be sure to consult with a tax professional to gain and full understanding of this process and what it could mean for your finances.

State and Local Taxes

As you go through the process of selling your home, you should also consider any state and local taxes that may come your way. At the state level, homeowners may encounter capital gains taxes, as mentioned above. These taxes can vary depending on the state’s tax laws and how long the property has been owned. Additionally, local governments may impose a real estate transfer tax, which is a tax on any change of ownership in real estate. Homeowners can also explore potential homestead exemptions offered by their state or local government, which can provide tax relief by reducing the taxable value of their home. Take the time to thoroughly research tax laws your specific town, city, and state so you can know exactly what to expect when it comes time to close the sale.

Special Situations

Home selling taxes can vary in special situations, such as selling a second home or investment property, selling a jointly owned property as a result of a divorce, or selling inherited or estate property. In all of these scenarios, taxes require careful consideration and planning. It’s crucial for individuals facing these special situations to seek professional guidance from tax advisors or a trusted real estate expert to understand and navigate the tax implications effectively.

Seeking Professional Advice

When navigating the complexities of home selling taxes, seeking professional advice is invaluable. Tax professionals, such as tax advisors or accountants, play a crucial role in helping homeowners understand and manage their tax obligations effectively. For best results, it’s best for to you consult with a tax advisor or accountant before listing the property, during negotiations, and even following the sale. They can provide personalized guidance tailored to your specific financial situation throughout the entire selling process. Ultimately, partnering with a tax professional ensures that you have support you need to navigate home selling taxes with peace of mind.


Selling your home can be an exciting life chapter, but it’s essential to address the significant financial considerations, especially taxes. By seeking guidance from tax professionals, you can navigate these taxes with confidence and ensure a smooth transaction.

Ready to take the leap and begin your home selling journey? Contact one our expert REALTORS® or click below for a FREE HOME EVALUATION!

**Lamacchia Realty, Inc. is not a licensed tax professional. The information on this website is for illustrative and educational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for any financial product or instrument. Consult with a licensed tax professional for specific information, guidelines, or qualifications regarding real estate taxes**