||2008 Tax Year
Exclusion on sale of main home by surviving spouse. If you are an unmarried widow or widower on the date of sale, you may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of any gain from the
sale or exchange of your main home. For more information, see Sale of main home by surviving spouse under Ownership and Use Tests, later.
Mortgage debt forgiveness. You can exclude from gross income any discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. This exclusion applies to discharges
made after 2006 and before 2013. Additionally, the basis of the principal residence (main home) must be reduced (but not below
zero) by the amount excluded from gross income. For more information, see Discharges of qualified principal residence indebtedness, later, and Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment).
New rule for employees and volunteers of the Peace Corps. If you or your spouse is an employee, enrolled volunteer, or volunteer leader of the Peace Corps, you may be able to exclude
from income a gain from selling your main home, even if you did not live in it for 2 years during the 5-year period ending
on the date of sale. Generally, you can elect to have the 5-year test period for ownership and use suspended (maximum of 10
years) during any period you or your spouse serves outside the United States (on qualified official extended duty if an employee).
This provision applies to a sale of a main home after December 31, 2007, and is now included under a special rule that already
allows similar benefits to members of the uniformed services or Foreign Service, or employees of the intelligence community.
For more information, see Members of the uniformed service or Foreign Service, employees of the intelligence community, or employees or volunteers of
the Peace Corps, later.
First-time homebuyer credit. If you bought a main home in the United States after April 8, 2008, and did not own a main home during the prior 3 years,
you may be able to take the first-time homebuyer credit. See the instructions for Form 1040, line 69.
State and local general sales taxes. The option to deduct state and local general sales taxes instead of state and local income taxes was extended through 2009.
See the instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040), line 5.
Nonqualifed use of property used partly for business or rental. Beginning with sales or exchanges of your main home after December 31, 2008, many of the rules discussed in Publication 523,
Business Use or Rental of Home, will not apply. You will no longer be able to exclude gain allocated to periods of nonqualified use of the property. For
information, see Publication 553, Highlights of 2008 Tax Changes.
Home sold with undeducted points. If you have not deducted all the points you paid to secure a mortgage on your old home, you may be able to deduct the remaining
points in the year of the sale. See
Mortgage ending early
under Points in chapter 23.
This chapter explains the tax rules that apply when you sell your main home. Generally, your main home is the one in which
you live most of the time.
If you sold your main home in 2008, you may be able to exclude from income any gain up to a limit of $250,000 ($500,000 on
a joint return in most cases). See
Excluding the Gain
, later. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
If you have gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. Report it on Schedule D (Form 1040). You may also have to complete
Form 4797, Sales of Business Property. See
Reporting the Sale
If you have a loss on the sale, you cannot deduct it on your return. However, you may need to report it. See Reporting the Sale, later.
The following are main topics in this chapter.
Figuring gain or loss.
Excluding the gain.
Ownership and use tests.
Reporting the sale.
Other topics include the following.
Useful Items - You may want to see:
Selling Your Home
Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners
Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
Form (and Instructions)
Schedule D (Form 1040)
Capital Gains and Losses
Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustments)
Recapture of Federal Mortgage Subsidy
This section explains the term “main home.” Usually, the home you live in most of the time is your main home and can be a:
To exclude gain under the rules of this chapter, you generally must have owned and lived in the property as your main home
for at least 2 years during the 5-year period ending on the date of sale.
If you sell the land on which your main home is located, but not the house itself, you cannot exclude any gain you
have from the sale of the land. However, if you sell vacant land used as part of your main home and that is adjacent to it,
you may be able to exclude the gain from the sale under certain circumstances. See Vacant land
under Main Home
in Publication 523 for more information.
You buy a piece of land and move your main home to it. Then you sell the land on which your main home was located. This sale
is not considered a sale of your main home, and you cannot exclude any gain on the sale of the land.
More than one home.
If you have more than one home, you can exclude gain only from the sale of your main home. You must include in income
gain from the sale of any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one
you live in most of the time.
You own and live in a house in the city. You also own a beach house, which you use during summer months. The house in the
city is your main home.
You own a house, but you live in another house that you rent. The rented house is your main home.
Property used partly as your main home.
If you use only part of the property as your main home, the rules discussed in this chapter apply only to the gain
or loss on the sale of that part of the property. For details, see
Business Use or Rental of Home
To figure the gain or loss on the sale of your main home, you must know the selling price, the amount realized, and the adjusted
basis. Subtract the adjusted basis from the amount realized to get your gain or loss.
||Gain or loss
The selling price is the total amount you receive for your home. It includes money; all notes, mortgages, or other debts assumed
by the buyer as part of the sale; and the fair market value of any other property or any services you receive.
Payment by employer.
You may have to sell your home because of a job transfer. If your employer pays you for a loss on the sale or for
your selling expenses, do not include the payment as part of the selling price. Your employer will include it as wages in
box 1 of your Form W-2 and you will include it in your income on Form 1040, line 7, or on Form 1040NR, line 8.
Option to buy.
If you grant an option to buy your home and the option is exercised, add the amount you receive for the option to
the selling price of your home. If the option is not exercised, you must report the amount as ordinary income in the year
the option expires. Report this amount on Form 1040, line 21, or on Form 1040NR, line 21.
If you received Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions, box 2 (gross proceeds) should show the total
amount you received for your home.
However, box 2 will not include the fair market value of any services or property other than cash or notes you received
or will receive. Instead, box 4 will be checked to indicate your receipt or expected receipt of these items.
If you can exclude the entire gain, the person responsible for closing the sale generally will not have to report
it on Form 1099-S. If you do not receive Form 1099-S, use sale documents and other records to figure the total amount you
received for your home.
The amount realized is the selling price minus selling expenses.
Selling expenses include:
While you owned your home, you may have made adjustments (increases or decreases) to the basis. This adjusted basis must be
determined before you can figure gain or loss on the sale of your home. For information on how to figure your home's adjusted
To figure the amount of gain or loss, compare the amount realized to the adjusted basis.
Gain on sale.
If the amount realized is more than the adjusted basis, the difference is a gain and, except for any part you can
exclude, generally is taxable.
Loss on sale.
If the amount realized is less than the adjusted basis, the difference is a loss. A loss on the sale of your main
home cannot be deducted.
Jointly owned home.
If you and your spouse sell your jointly owned home and file a joint return, you figure your gain or loss as one taxpayer.
If you file separate returns, each of you must figure your own gain or loss according to your ownership interest in
the home. Your ownership interest is determined by state law.
Joint owners not married.
If you and a joint owner other than your spouse sell your jointly owned home, each of you must figure your own gain
or loss according to your ownership interest in the home. Each of you applies the rules discussed in this chapter on an individual
Dispositions Other Than Sales
Some special rules apply to other dispositions of your main home.
Foreclosure or repossession.
If your home was foreclosed on or repossessed, you have a disposition.
You figure the gain or loss from the disposition in generally the same way as gain or loss from a sale. But the selling
price of your home used to figure the amount of your gain or loss depends, in part, on whether you were personally liable
for repaying the debt secured by the home and whether the debt is qualified principal residence indebtedness. See Publication
523 for more information.
Form 1099-A and Form 1099-C.
Generally, you will receive Form 1099-A, Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property, from your lender if your
home is transferred in a foreclosure. This form will have the information you need to determine the amount of your gain or
loss and any ordinary income from cancellation of debt that is not a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness.
If your debt is canceled, you may receive Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.
Discharges of qualified principal residence indebtedness.
You may be able to exclude from gross income a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. This exclusion
applies to discharges made after 2006 and before 2013. If you choose to exclude this income, you must reduce (but not below
zero) the basis of the principal residence by the amount excluded from your gross income.
File Form 982 with your tax return. See the form's instructions for detailed information.
Your principal residence is the home where you ordinarily live most of the time. You can have only one principal residence
at any one time. See Main Home
Qualified principal residence indebtedness.
This indebtedness is a mortgage you took out to buy, build, or substantially improve your principal residence. It
also must be secured by your principal residence.
Amount eligible for the exclusion.
The exclusion applies only to debt discharged after 2006 and before 2013. The maximum amount you can treat as qualified
principal residence indebtedness is $2 million ($1 million if married filing separately). You cannot exclude from gross income
discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness if the discharge was for services performed for the lender or on account
of any other factor not directly related to a decline in the value of your residence or to your financial condition.
If you abandon your home, you may have ordinary income. If the abandoned home secures a debt for which you are personally
liable and the debt is canceled, you have ordinary income equal to the amount of the canceled debt. See Publication 523 for
Trading (exchanging) homes.
If you trade your old home for another home, treat the trade as a sale and a purchase.
You owned and lived in a home with an adjusted basis of $41,000. A real estate dealer accepted your old home as a trade-in
and allowed you $50,000 toward a new home priced at $80,000. This is treated as a sale of your old home for $50,000 with a
gain of $9,000 ($50,000 – $41,000).
If the dealer had allowed you $27,000 and assumed your unpaid mortgage of $23,000 on your old home, your sales price would
still be $50,000 (the $27,000 trade-in allowed plus the $23,000 mortgage assumed).
Transfer to spouse.
If you transfer your home to your spouse or to your former spouse incident to your divorce, you generally have no
gain or loss. This is true even if you receive cash or other consideration for the home. Therefore, the rules in this chapter
do not apply.
If you need more information, see Transfer to spouse
in Publication 523 and Property Settlements
in Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.
You have a disposition when your home is destroyed or condemned and you receive other property or money in payment,
such as insurance or a condemnation award. This is treated as a sale and you may be able to exclude all or part of any gain
from the destruction or condemnation of your home, as explained later under Special Situations.
You need to know your basis in your home to figure any gain or loss when you sell it. Your basis in your home is determined
by how you got the home. Your basis is its cost if you bought it or built it. If you got it in some other way (inheritance,
gift, etc.), your basis is either its fair market value when you received it or the adjusted basis of the previous owner.
While you owned your home, you may have made adjustments (increases or decreases) to your home's basis. The result of these
adjustments is your home's adjusted basis, which is used to figure gain or loss on the sale of your home. See
You can find more information on basis and adjusted basis in chapter 13 of this publication and in Publication 523.
The cost of property is the amount you pay for it in cash, debt obligations, other property, or services.
If you buy your home, your basis is its cost to you. This includes the purchase price and certain settlement or closing
costs. Generally, your purchase price includes your down payment and any debt, such as a first or second mortgage or notes
you gave the seller in payment for the home. If you build, or contract to build, a new home, your purchase price can include
costs of construction, as discussed in Publication 523.
Settlement fees or closing costs.
When you bought your home, you may have paid settlement fees or closing costs in addition to the contract price of
the property. You can include in your basis some of the settlement fees and closing costs you paid for buying the home, but
not the fees and costs for getting a mortgage loan. A fee paid for buying the home is any fee you would have had to pay even
if you paid cash for the home (that is, without the need for financing).
Chapter 13 lists some of the settlement fees and closing costs that you can include in the basis of property, including
your home. It also lists some settlement costs that cannot be included in basis.
Also see Publication 523 for additional items and a discussion of basis other than cost.
Adjusted basis is your cost or other basis increased or decreased by certain amounts. To figure your adjusted basis, you can
use Worksheet 1 in Publication 523.
Increases to basis.
These include the following.
Additions and other improvements that have a useful life of more than 1 year.
Special assessments for local improvements.
Amounts you spent after a casualty to restore damaged property.
These add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses. You add the cost of additions
and other improvements to the basis of your property.
For example, putting a recreation room or another bathroom in your unfinished basement, putting up a new fence, putting
in new plumbing or wiring, putting on a new roof, or paving your unpaved driveway are improvements. An addition to your house,
such as a new deck, a sunroom, or a new garage, is also an improvement.
These maintain your home in good condition but do not add to its value or prolong its life. You do not add their cost
to the basis of your property.
For example, repainting your house inside or outside, fixing your gutters or floors, repairing leaks or plastering,
and replacing broken window panes are examples of repairs.
Decreases to basis.Recordkeeping.
These include the following.
Discharges of qualified principal indebtedness (but do not reduce basis below zero).
Gain you postponed from the sale of a previous home before May 7, 1997.
General sales taxes claimed as an itemized deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040) that were imposed on the purchase of personal
property, such as a houseboat used as your home or a mobile home.
Deductible casualty losses.
Insurance payments you received or expect to receive for casualty losses.
Payments you received for granting an easement or right-of-way.
Depreciation allowed or allowable if you used your home for business or rental purposes.
Residential energy credit (generally allowed from 1977 through 1987) claimed for the cost of energy improvements that you
added to the basis of your home.
Nonbusiness energy property credit (allowed beginning in 2006) claimed for making certain energy saving improvements that
you added to the basis of your home.
Residential energy efficient property credit (allowed beginning in 2006) claimed for making certain energy saving improvements
that you added to the basis of your home.
Adoption credit you claimed for improvements added to the basis of your home.
Nontaxable payments from an adoption assistance program of your employer that you used for improvements you added to the basis
of your home.
Energy conservation subsidy excluded from your gross income because you received it (directly or indirectly) from a public
utility after 1992 to buy or install any energy conservation measure. An energy conservation measure is an installation or
modification that is primarily designed either to reduce consumption of electricity or natural gas or to improve the management
of energy demand for a home.
District of Columbia first-time homebuyer credit (allowed on the purchase of a principal residence in the District of Columbia
beginning on August 5, 1997).
You should keep records to prove your home's adjusted basis. Ordinarily, you must keep records for 3 years after the due date
for filing your return for the tax year in which you sold your home. But if you sold a home before May 7, 1997, and postponed
tax on any gain, the basis of that home affects the basis of the new home you bought. Keep records proving the basis of both
homes as long as they are needed for tax purposes.
The records you should keep include:
Proof of the home's purchase price and purchase expenses,
Receipts and other records for all improvements, additions, and other items that affect the home's adjusted basis,
Any worksheets or other computations you used to figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain or loss on the sale,
the exclusion, and the taxable gain,
Any Form 982 that you filed to report any discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness,
Any Form 2119, Sale of Your Home, that you filed to postpone gain from the sale of a previous home before May 7, 1997, and
Any worksheets you used to prepare Form 2119, such as the Adjusted Basis of Home Sold Worksheet or the Capital Improvements
Worksheet from the Form 2119 instructions, or other source of computations.
You may qualify to exclude from your income all or part of any gain from the sale of your main home. This means that, if you
qualify, you will not have to pay tax on the gain up to the limit described under
, next. To qualify, you must meet the ownership and use tests described later.
You can choose not to take the exclusion by including the gain from the sale in your gross income on your tax return for the
year of the sale.
You can use Worksheet 2 in Publication 523 to figure the amount of your exclusion and your taxable gain, if any.
If you have any taxable gain from the sale of your home, you may have to increase your withholding or make estimated tax payments.
See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.
You can exclude up to $250,000 of the gain on the sale of your main home if all of the following are true.
You meet the ownership test.
You meet the use test.
During the 2-year period ending on the date of the sale, you did not exclude gain from the sale of another home.
You may be able to exclude up to $500,000 of the gain on the sale of your main home if you are married and file a joint return
and meet the requirements listed in the discussion of the special rules for joint returns, later, under Married Persons.
To claim the exclusion, you must meet the ownership and use tests. This means that during the 5-year period ending on the
date of the sale, you must have:
Owned the home for at least 2 years (the ownership test), and
Lived in the home as your main home for at least 2 years (the use test).
If you owned and lived in the property as your main home for less than 2 years, you can still claim an exclusion in
some cases. The maximum amount you may be able to exclude will be reduced. See
Reduced Maximum Exclusion
Example 1—home owned and occupied for at least 2 years.
Amanda bought and moved into her main home in September 2005. She sold the home at a gain on September 15, 2008. During the
5-year period ending on the date of sale (September 16, 2003–September 15, 2008), she owned and lived in the home for more
than 2 years. She meets the ownership and use tests.
Example 2—ownership test met but use test not met.
Dan bought a home in 2002. After living in it for 6 months, he moved out. He never lived in the home again and sold it at
a gain on June 28, 2008. He owned the home during the entire 5-year period ending on the date of sale (June 29, 2003–June
28, 2008). However, he did not live in it for the required 2 years. He meets the ownership test but not the use test. He cannot
exclude any part of his gain on the sale, unless he qualified for a reduced maximum exclusion (explained later).
Period of Ownership and Use
The required 2 years of ownership and use during the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale do not have to be continuous
nor do they have to occur at the same time.
You meet the tests if you can show that you owned and lived in the property as your main home for either 24 full months or
730 days (365 × 2) during the 5-year period ending on the date of sale.
Short temporary absences for vacations or other seasonal absences, even if you rent out the property during the absences,
are counted as periods of use. The following examples assume that the reduced maximum exclusion (discussed later) does not
apply to the sales.
David Johnson, who is single, bought and moved into his home on February 1, 2006. Each year during 2006 and 2007, David left
his home for a 2-month summer vacation. David sold the house on March 1, 2008. Although the total time David used his home
is less than 2 years (21 months), he may exclude any gain up to $250,000. The 2-month vacations are short temporary absences
and are counted as periods of use in determining whether David used the home for the required 2 years.
Professor Paul Beard, who is single, bought and moved into a house on August 28, 2005. He lived in it as his main home continuously
until January 5, 2007, when he went abroad for a 1-year sabbatical leave. On February 6, 2008, 1 month after returning from
the leave, Paul sold the house at a gain. Because his leave was not a short temporary absence, he cannot include the period
of leave to meet the 2-year use test. He cannot exclude any part of his gain, because he did not use the residence for the
required 2 years.
Ownership and use tests met at different times.
You can meet the ownership and use tests during different 2-year periods. However, you must meet both tests during
the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale.
In 1999, Helen Jones lived in a rented apartment. The apartment building was later converted to condominiums, and she bought
her same apartment on December 3, 2005. In 2006, Helen became ill and on April 14 of that year she moved to her daughter's
home. On July 12, 2008, while still living in her daughter's home, she sold her condominium.
Helen can exclude gain on the sale of her condominium because she met the ownership and use tests during the 5-year period
from July 13, 2003, to July 12, 2008, the date she sold the condominium. She owned her condominium from December 3, 2005,
to July 12, 2008 (more than 2 years). She lived in the property from July 13, 2003 (the beginning of the 5-year period), to
April 14, 2006 (more than 2 years).
The time Helen lived in her daughter's home during the 5-year period can be counted toward her period of ownership, and the
time she lived in her rented apartment during the 5-year period can be counted toward her period of use.
If you sold stock as a tenant-stockholder in a cooperative housing corporation, the ownership and use tests are met
if, during the 5-year period ending on the date of sale, you:
Owned the stock for at least 2 years, and
Lived in the house or apartment that the stock entitles you to occupy as your main home for at least 2 years.
Exceptions to Ownership and Use Tests
The following sections contain exceptions to the ownership and use tests for certain taxpayers.
Exception for individuals with a disability.
There is an exception to the use test if, during the 5-year period before the sale of your home:
You become physically or mentally unable to care for yourself, and
You owned and lived in your home as your main home for a total of at least 1 year.
Under this exception, you are considered to live in your home during any time that you own the home and live in a facility
(including a nursing home) that is licensed by a state or political subdivision to care for persons in your condition.
If you meet this exception to the use test, you still have to meet the 2-out-of-5-year ownership test to claim the exclusion.
Previous home destroyed or condemned.
For the ownership and use tests, you add the time you owned and lived in a previous home that was destroyed or condemned
to the time you owned and lived in the replacement home on whose sale you wish to exclude gain. This rule applies if any part
of the basis of the home you sold depended on the basis of the destroyed or condemned home. Otherwise, you must have owned
and lived in the same home for 2 of the 5 years before the sale to qualify for the exclusion.
Members of the uniformed services or Foreign Service, employees of the intelligence community, or employees or volunteers
of the Peace Corps.
You can choose to have the 5-year test period for ownership and use suspended during any period you or your spouse
serve on “qualified official extended duty
” as a member of the uniformed services or Foreign Service of the United States, as an employee of the intelligence community,
or as an employee or volunteer of the Peace Corps. This means that you may be able to meet the 2-year use test even if, because
of your service, you did not actually live in your home for at least the required 2 years during the 5-year period ending
on the date of sale.
If this helps you qualify to exclude gain, you can choose to have the 5-year test period suspended by filing a return
for the year of sale that does not include the gain.
David bought and moved into a home in 2000. He lived in it as his main home for 2½ years. For the next 6 years, he did not
live in it because he was on qualified official extended duty with the Army. He then sold the home at a gain in 2008. To meet
the use test, David chooses to suspend the 5-year test period for the 6 years he was on qualified official extended duty.
This means he can disregard those 6 years. Therefore, David's 5-year test period consists of the 5 years before he went on
qualified official extended duty. He meets the ownership and use tests because he owned and lived in the home for 2½ years
during this test period.
Period of suspension.
The period of suspension cannot last more than 10 years. Together, the 10-year suspension period and the 5-year test
period can be as long as, but no more than, 15 years. You cannot suspend the 5-year period for more than one property at a
time. You can revoke your choice to suspend the 5-year period at any time.
For more information about the suspension of the 5-year test period, see Members of the uniformed services or Foreign Service, employees of the intelligence community, or employees or volunteers
of the Peace Corps in Publication 523.
If you and your spouse file a joint return for the year of sale and one spouse meets the ownership and use test, you can exclude
up to $250,000 of the gain. (But see
Special rules for joint returns
Special rules for joint returns.
You can exclude up to $500,000 of the gain on the sale of your main home if all of the following are true.
You are married and file a joint return for the year.
Either you or your spouse meets the ownership test.
Both you and your spouse meet the use test.
During the 2-year period ending on the date of the sale, neither you nor your spouse excluded gain from the sale of another
If either spouse does not satisfy all these requirements, the maximum exclusion that can be claimed by the couple is the total
of the maximum exclusions that each spouse would qualify for if not married and the amounts were figured separately. For this
purpose, each spouse is treated as owning the property during the period that either spouse owned the property.
Example 1—one spouse sells a home.
Emily sells her home in June 2008. She marries Jamie later in the year. She meets the ownership and use tests, but Jamie does
not. Emily can exclude up to $250,000 of gain on a separate or joint return for 2008. The $500,000 maximum exclusion for certain
joint returns does not apply because Jamie does not meet the use test.
Example 2—each spouse sells a home.
The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that Jamie also sells a home in 2008 before he marries Emily. He meets the ownership and use tests on his home, but
Emily does not. Emily and Jamie can each exclude up to $250,000 of gain. The $500,000 maximum exclusion for certain joint
returns does not apply because Emily and Jamie do not jointly meet the use test for the same home.
Sale of main home by surviving spouse.
If your spouse died and you did not remarry before the date of sale, you are considered to have owned and lived in
the property as your main home during any period of time when your spouse owned and lived in it as a main home.
If you meet all of the following requirements, you may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of any gain from the sale
or exchange of your main home.
The sale or exchange took place after 2007.
The sale or exchange took place no more than 2 years after the date of death of your spouse.
You have not remarried.
You and your spouse met the use test at the time of your spouse's death.
You or your spouse met the ownership test at the time of your spouse's death.
Neither you nor your spouse excluded gain from the sale of another home during the last 2 years.
Harry has owned and used a house as his main home since 2005. Harry and Wilma marry on July 1, 2008, and from that
date they use Harry's house as their main home. Harry died on August 15, 2008, and Wilma inherited the property. Wilma sold
the property on September 1, 2008, at which time she had not remarried. Although Wilma owned and used the house for less than
2 years, Wilma is considered to have satisfied the ownership and use tests because her period of ownership and use includes
the period that Harry owned and used the property before death.
Home transferred from spouse.
If your home was transferred to you by your spouse (or former spouse if the transfer was incident to divorce), you
are considered to have owned it during any period of time when your spouse owned it.
Use of home after divorce.
You are considered to have used property as your main home during any period when:
Reduced Maximum Exclusion
If you fail to meet the requirements to qualify for the $250,000 or $500,000 exclusion, you may still qualify for a reduced
exclusion. This applies to those who:
Fail to meet the ownership and use tests, or
Have used the exclusion within 2 years of selling their current home.
In both cases, to qualify for a reduced exclusion, the sale of your main home must be due to one of the following reasons.
The sale of your main home is because of an unforeseen circumstance if your primary reason for the sale is the occurrence
of an event that you could not reasonably have anticipated before buying and occupying your main home.
See Publication 523 for more information and to use Worksheet 3 to figure your reduced maximum exclusion.
Business Use or Rental of Home
You may be able to exclude gain from the sale of a home that you have used for business or to produce rental income. But you
must meet the ownership and use tests.
On May 29, 2002, Amy bought a house. She moved in on that date and lived in it until May 31, 2004, when she moved out of the
house and put it up for rent. The house was rented from June 1, 2004, to March 31, 2006. Amy moved back into the house on
April 1, 2006, and lived there until she sold it on January 30, 2008. During the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale
(January 31, 2003–January 30, 2008), Amy owned and lived in the house for more than 2 years as shown in the following table.
| 1/31/03 –
| 6/1/04 –
|| 22 months
| 4/1/06 –
Amy can exclude gain up to $250,000. However, she cannot exclude the part of the gain equal to the depreciation she claimed
or could have claimed for renting the house, as explained after Example 2.
William owned and used a house as his main home from 2002 through 2005. On January 1, 2006, he moved to another state. He
rented his house from that date until April 30, 2008, when he sold it. During the 5-year period ending on the date of sale
(May 1, 2003–April 30, 2008), William owned and lived in the house for 32 months (more than 2 years). He must report the sale
on Form 4797 because it was rental property at the time of sale. Because he met the ownership and use tests, he can exclude
gain up to $250,000. However, he cannot exclude the part of the gain equal to the depreciation he claimed or could have claimed
for renting the house, as explained next.
Depreciation after May 6, 1997.
If you were entitled to take depreciation deductions because you used your home for business purposes or as rental
property, you cannot exclude the part of your gain equal to any depreciation allowed or allowable as a deduction for periods
after May 6, 1997. If you can show by adequate records or other evidence that the depreciation allowed was less than the amount
allowable, the amount you cannot exclude is the amount allowed. See Publication 544 for more information.
Property used partly for business or rental.
If you used property partly as a home and partly for business or to produce rental income, see Publication 523.
Do not report the 2008 sale of your main home on your tax return unless:
You have a gain and you do not qualify to exclude all of it,
You have a gain and you choose not to exclude it, or
You have a loss and you received Form 1099-S.
If you have any taxable gain on the sale of your main home that cannot be excluded, report the entire gain on Schedule D (Form
1040). Report it in column (f) of line 1 or line 8 of Schedule D, as short-term or long-term capital gain depending on how
long you owned the home. If you qualify for an exclusion, show it on the line directly below the line on which you report
the gain. Enter “Section 121 exclusion” in column (a) of that line and show the amount of the exclusion in column (f) as a loss (in parentheses).
If you have a loss on the sale of your main home for which you received a Form 1099-S, you must report the loss on Schedule
D even though the loss is not deductible. Report the transaction on line 1 or 8, as above. Complete columns (a) through (e).
Enter -0- in column (f).
If you used the home for business or to produce rental income, you may have to use Form 4797 to report the sale of the business
or rental part (or the sale of the entire property if used entirely for business or rental). See Business Use or Rental of Home in Publication 523 and the Instructions for Form 4797.
Some sales are made under arrangements that provide for part or all of the selling price to be paid in a later year. These
sales are called “installment sales.
” If you finance the buyer's purchase of your home yourself instead of having the buyer get a loan or mortgage from a bank,
you probably have an installment sale. You may be able to report the part of the gain you cannot exclude on the installment
Use Form 6252, Installment Sale Income, to report the sale. Enter your exclusion on line 15 of Form 6252.
If you sell your home and hold a note, mortgage, or other financial agreement, the payments you receive generally
consist of both interest and principal. You must separately report as interest income the interest you receive as part of
each payment. If the buyer of your home uses the property as a main or second home, you must also report the name, address,
and social security number (SSN) of the buyer on line 1 of either Schedule B (Form 1040) or Schedule 1 (Form 1040A). The buyer
must give you his or her SSN and you must give the buyer your SSN. Failure to meet these requirements may result in a $50
penalty for each failure. If you or the buyer does not have and is not eligible to get an SSN, see
Social Security Number
in chapter 1.
For more information on installment sales, see Publication 537, Installment Sales.
The situations that follow may affect your exclusion.
Sale of home acquired in a like-kind exchange.
You cannot claim the exclusion if:
You acquired your home in a like-kind exchange (also known as a section 1031 exchange) or your basis in your home is determined
by reference to the basis of the home in the hands of the person who acquired the property in a like-kind exchange (for example,
you received the home from that person as a gift), and
You sold the home during the 5-year period beginning with the date your home was acquired in the like-kind exchange.
Gain from a like-kind exchange is not taxable at the time of the exchange. This means that gain will not be taxed until you
sell or otherwise dispose of the property you receive. To defer gain from a like-kind exchange, you must have exchanged business
or investment property for business or investment property of a like kind. For more information about like-kind exchanges,
see Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets.
Home relinquished in a like-kind exchange.
If you use your main home partly for business or rental purposes and then exchange the home for another property,
see Publication 523.
You cannot claim the exclusion if the expatriation tax applies to you. The expatriation tax applies to certain U.S.
citizens who have renounced their citizenship (and to certain long-term residents who have ended their residency). For more
information about the expatriation tax, see chapter 4 of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
The expatriation rules changed for expatriations after June 16, 2008.
Home destroyed or condemned.
If your home was destroyed or condemned, any gain (for example, because of insurance proceeds you received) qualifies
for the exclusion.
Any part of the gain that cannot be excluded (because it is more than the maximum exclusion) can be postponed under
the rules explained in:
Publication 547, in the case of a home that was destroyed, or
Publication 544, chapter 1, in the case of a home that was condemned.
Sale of remainder interest.
Subject to the other rules in this chapter, you can choose to exclude gain from the sale of a remainder interest in
your home. If you make this choice, you cannot choose to exclude gain from your sale of any other interest in the home that
you sell separately.
Exception for sales to related persons.
You cannot exclude gain from the sale of a remainder interest in your home to a related person. Related persons include
your brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, spouse, ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.), and lineal descendants
(children, grandchildren, etc.). Related persons also include certain corporations, partnerships, trusts, and exempt organizations.
Recapturing (Paying Back) a Federal Mortgage Subsidy
If you financed your home under a federally subsidized program (loans from tax-exempt qualified mortgage bonds or loans with
mortgage credit certificates), you may have to recapture all or part of the benefit you received from that program when you
sell or otherwise dispose of your home. You recapture the benefit by increasing your federal income tax for the year of the
sale. You may have to pay this recapture tax even if you can exclude your gain from income under the rules discussed earlier;
that exclusion does not affect the recapture tax.
Loans subject to recapture rules.
The recapture applies to loans that:
Came from the proceeds of qualified mortgage bonds, or
Were based on mortgage credit certificates.
The recapture also applies to assumptions of these loans.
When recapture applies.
Recapture of the federal mortgage subsidy applies only if you meet both of the following conditions.
Within the first 9 years after the date you close your mortgage loan, you sell or otherwise dispose of your home at a gain.
Your income for the year of disposition is more than that year's adjusted qualifying income for your family size for that
year (related to the income requirements a person must meet to qualify for the federally subsidized program).
When recapture does not apply.
Recapture does not apply in any of the following situations.
Your mortgage loan was a qualified home improvement loan (QHIL) of not more than $15,000 used for alterations, repairs, and
improvements that protect or improve the basic livability or energy efficiency of your home.
Your mortgage loan was a QHIL of not more than $150,000 in the case of a QHIL used to repair damage from Hurricane Katrina
to homes in the hurricane disaster area; a QHIL funded by a qualified mortgage bond that is a qualified Gulf Opportunity Zone
Bond; or a QHIL for an owner-occupied home in the Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone), Rita GO Zone, or Wilma GO Zone. For more
information, see Publication 4492, Information for Taxpayers Affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Also see Publication
4492-B, Information for Affected Taxpayers in the Midwestern Disaster Areas.
The home is disposed of as a result of your death.
You dispose of the home more than 9 years after the date you closed your mortgage loan.
You transfer the home to your spouse, or to your former spouse incident to a divorce, where no gain is included in your income.
You dispose of the home at a loss.
Your home is destroyed by a casualty, and you replace it on its original site within 2 years after the end of the tax year
when the destruction happened (within 5 years if the home was in the Hurricane Katrina disaster area and was destroyed by
reason of the hurricane after August 24, 2005). If your home was located in the Kansas disaster area, one of the Midwestern
disaster areas, or another federally declared disaster area, see Replacement Period in Publication 547.
You refinance your mortgage loan (unless you later meet the conditions listed previously under
When the recapture applies
Notice of amounts.
At or near the time of settlement of your mortgage loan, you should receive a notice that provides the federally subsidized
amount and other information you will need to figure your recapture tax.
How to figure and report the recapture.
The recapture tax is figured on Form 8828. If you sell your home and your mortgage is subject to recapture rules, you must
file Form 8828 even if you do not owe a recapture tax. Attach Form 8828 to your Form 1040. For more information, see Form
8828 and its instructions.
First-Time Homebuyer Credit
Use Form 5405 and see the instructions for Form 1040, line 69, to claim the first-time homebuyer credit. The credit may give
you a refund even if you do not owe any tax. The credit operates much like an interest-free loan. You generally must repay
it over a 15-year period. You (and your spouse if married) are considered a first-time homebuyer if:
You purchased your main home in the United States after April 8, 2008.
You did not own any other main home during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase.
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