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Ask Christopher Phelps Your Own Question
Christopher Phelps
Christopher Phelps, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 2710
Experience:  CPA, CFP, PFS, Tax Practitioner 21 Years, Member AICPA/CSCPA Tax/Financial Planning Committee Member
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Selling a home owned less than 2 years

Customer Question

What if I sell my home and buy another one but have not lived in my house for quite 2 years? What kind of taxes will there be?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Lev replied 10 years ago.

Even you didn't vive in the house for last two years you may be eligible for exclusion. Have you live in the house any time during the last five years? What is the reason you moved out and selling it now? Did your spouse lived in the house?

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Lev's Post: I moved into the house 9/04 but did not buy it til 10/04. I am thinking about selling it now because my mom wants to sell me her house but I have lived in the house the full time since 9/04.
Expert:  Christopher Phelps replied 10 years ago.

Under IRC Sec. 121 if as of the date of sale you have owned and used a property as your principal residence for 24 out of the last 60 months, then you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 if married filing joint) if filing a single or MFS return. Thus, your two year requirement will be met in 10/06.

If you have owned or used your property as your principal residence for less then 24 months you may not use the Sec. 121 exclusion (i.e. $250K/$500K exclusion) unless you meet a qualified exception. You may use a pro-rata exclusion if the reason you are selling is related to a job change, for medical reasons or for some other unforeseen circumstance (i.e. death, disability, divorce, job loss, financial hardship, etc.). See below for a more expanded explanation of the allowable exceptions.

The pro-rata portion of the exclusion is calculated by dividing the number of days you both owned and occupied the property as your principal residence by 730 days (i.e. two years). Multiply the resulting percentage by $250K if single or $500K if MFJ.

If you do not meet one of the exceptions, then the gain is taxable. Also, if your gain is in excess of the available exclusion amount, then the excess gain is taxable. If you own the property for more then one year, then the gain will be treated as a long-term capital gain taxed up to a maximum capital gain rate of 15% (5% if the gain would otherwise be taxable in the 10% and 15% brackets). Otherwise the gain is treated as a short-term capital gain and to the extent not offset by other capital losses will be considered as ordinary income the same as wages and interest subject to whatever your marginal tax rate is.

Most states have conformed to the Federal law described above. Accordingly, the manner in which your gain on the sale of your principal residence is treated for Federal purposes will also likely be the same for your resident state tax purposes as well. If you indicate what your resident state is I can confirm this for you.

A sale or exchange is due to a change in place of employment if the primary reason for the sale or exchange is a change in the location of a qualified individual's employment. As a safe harbor, the regulations provide that a sale or exchange is deemed due to a change in place of employment if the change occurs during the period of the taxpayer's ownership of the property and its use as the principal residence and the qualified individual's new place of employment is at least 50 miles further from the residence sold or exchanged than was the former place of employment, (or, if there was no former place of employment, the distance between the qualified individual's new place of employment and the residence sold or exchanged is at least 50 miles).

A sale or exchange is due to health if the primary reason is to obtain, provide, or facilitate the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, or treatment of disease, illness, or injury. A safe harbor is provided for a physician recommended change of residence.

A sale or exchange is due to unforeseen circumstances if the primary reason for the sale or exchange is the occurrence of an event that the taxpayer could not reasonably have anticipated before purchasing and occupying the residence. Under the safe harbor rules, a sale or exchange is deemed to due to unforeseen circumstances if any of the following events occur during the period of the taxpayer's ownership and use as principal residence; in the case of a qualified individual, death, the cessation of employment if, as a result, the qualified individual is eligible for unemployment compensation, a change in employment or self-employment status that results in the taxpayer's inability to pay housing costs and reasonable basic living expenses for the taxpayer's household, divorce or legal separation, or multiple births resulting from the same pregnancy.

Because it is impossible for me to identify and consider ALL the relevant facts, this advice is not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties, and cannot be used for that purpose.