Take Advantage of Tax Exemption When Selling, Part 1

One of the most useful advantages for fixer upper house investors is also one of the most under-utilized. My wife and I bought a house we are presently repairing that we plan to sell utilizing the federal tax exemption. This generous gift from the all-wise lawmakers in Washington DC is part of the 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act.

The 1997 Taxpayer Relief Act was a great boost for average people who wanted to sell their home and buy a new one. It was also a great boost for investors. Couples are allowed to exclude up to $500,000 of the capital gain on the sale of their primary residence. Single individuals can exclude up to $250,000. In other words, the sale of the house is never reported on your federal IRS forms if the capital gain is less than the $500,000 and $250,000 limits. This exclusion is based on compliance with two requirements:

1. The home must have been the primary residence for both spouses during two of the last five years. The two years do not have to be consecutive but if you rent out the primary residence for more than three years you would be required to occupy it again for two years.

2. The exclusion is available only once every two years.

Capital gains above $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for couples are taxed at the applicable rate. What if you sell your house before meeting the two year requirement? If you qualify under one of the unforeseen events listed in the IRS publication, such as a job change, illness or an unusual hardship, you can still qualify for a prorated exclusion. Check Publication 523 for a complete list of unforeseen circumstances, at:


There are many advantages to buying, repairing houses and selling after two years, while utilizing the tax exemption. My wife and I maintain rental properties that provides regular monthly income, but we are also buying and selling with the tax exemption, to generate cash for future investments, and just to have more cash on hand. I will cover more details of the tax exemption in up-coming posts, such as how it works, advantages to investors of using the exemption, what properties to buy, and other topics.

Tax Exemption for Serial Home Buyers/Sellers, Part 2

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