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jgordosea, Enrolled Agent
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 3161
Experience:  I've prepared all types of taxes since 1987.
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Can we have 2 primary residences I am separated from my wife.

Resolved Question:

Can we have 2 primary residences? I am separated from my wife. I owned 2 houses bought prior to our marriage. She lives in one now and I live in the other. She recently moved into this home. The tax filing primary residence has been the one I am in. I solely own the home she lives in but have been renting it out for 3 of the last 5 years. We plan to sell the house I'm living in which has zero tax break as it is worth less then what we paid for it. Even though we owe the bank more on 'her' home then the value, there would be a large tax because of the length of time I've owned 'her' home. (owe: $900M | sale of $600M | cost basis $200M).

Any suggestions?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  jgordosea replied 7 years ago.



Certainly two people can each have a primary residence; but by definition not more than one residence can be the primary residence of one person at any one time.


You may be aware that you can exclude the capital gain on the sale of a primary residence if you owned and occupied that home for any two year period (not necessarily consecutive) prior to the date of sale.


The exclusion is for up to $250,000 for a single filing status and up to $500,000 for a married filing joint filing status. The full exclusion up to $500,000 for a married filing joint return can apply if only one spouse satisfies the two year period for owning and occupying within the last five years rules. That is, you can own it and she can occupy it.


You will have to report a taxable gain to the extent that you have deducted or were allowed depreciation on the home while it was rented.


If you can close the sale of the home she is living in and meet the two year period using either her or your occupancy that should allow most of the gain (except depreciation allowed) to be excluded from income IF you file jointly for the year of the sale.


I hope this helps to know either spouse can own and occupy to apply the primary residence exclusion from income.


Best wishes.






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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. This is the first time I've used this service, how can I access your services if I have another question?
Expert:  jgordosea replied 7 years ago.

Hello again,


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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm sorry but didn't finish the question but I think you answered, we are seperated, should we file for 2009 as married filing jointly? married filing seperate? She has low income and I have low income because of the general economy. I'm just trying to make sure we get the full tax benefits.
Expert:  jgordosea replied 7 years ago.

Hello again,


Almost always it will be best to file jointly if you can both agree to do it together.


There are a few cases it might be better to file two returns; but that is only if you did not live together at all in the last six months of 2009 and you do have dependent children.


I hope this helps.

Best regards.