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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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home sale exclusion on gain

Customer Question

hi, my wife and I sold our house in Colorado 6/15/12. We used the exclusion since we had lived there for 10 years. We moved to California and bought a house 10/25/13 (new job). The job is not working out and we want to sell this house and move back to Colorado. I believe we will have a gain of about $60,000 on the California home. How can we avoid getting taxed on that gain? Jim

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  jgordosea replied 3 years ago.

As you may be aware, the exclusion of gain from a principal residence can only be used once every two years (in addition to the requirements to own and occupy the residence for two of the five years prior to the sale).
So, you would need to own and occupy the California house for two years in order to use the full exclusion in addition to having used the exclusion for the Colorado house.

There is provision for possibly using a reduced maximum exclusion when the sale of your home was due to one of the following :
1)A change in place of employment.
2) Health.
3) Unforeseen circumstances.

For details and examples of each allowable le reason for a reduced exclusion see

One possibility might be if you get employment in Colorado while you are still using your California home as your main home that change of employment could allow for a partial exclusion of gain on the sale of your Colorado home.

The formula for the partial exclusion is a bit involved, but a copy of the worksheet is on page 34 of the publication at

Basically you will first take a ratio of the days in the new home divided by 730 days and multiple that ratio times the maximum 500,000 for a married filing joint couple.
So, if you are in the new home for 146 days the ratio is 146/730 = .2 and the maximum exclusion is 100,000.

Secondly you have to make a similar ratio of how long it has been since the sale date that the exclusion was previously used used. The difference in the sale dates is divided by 730 to find that ratio.

Then, the lesser of the two ratios will be multiplied times the maximum exclusion to find your partial exclusion.

You can exclude the gain from a second primary home if the sale is due to 1)a change in place of employment 2) health or 3) unforeseen circumstances but can only use a partial of the maximum of 500,000 for married couples.

From you description, if you sold the Colorado home and moved to California in October 2012 the partial exclusion will be more than 60,000 and can be deducted if the move is for a change in employment (while you are still occupying the new home).

Please ask if you need clarification.
Thank you.