Don’t Get Taxed Out: Know the Taxes When Selling A House

Dec 30, 2023 | Selling

Home » Don’t Get Taxed Out: Know the Taxes When Selling A House

Hey there, homeowners! Thinking about selling your home? We bet you’ve thought about staging, listing, and closing costs. But have you considered the tax implications? Yep, we’re talking about capital gains tax, transfer tax, property tax—the works. It might sound overwhelming, but stick with us. We’re here to help you understand each of these taxes when selling a house.

TheTrio of Taxes When Selling Your House:
Capital Gains, Transfer, and Property Taxes

Here are the big three taxes you need to know about when selling a house:

1. Capital Gains Tax – The Profit Tax

When you sell your home for more than you paid for it (we hope that’s the case!), you make a ‘capital gain.’ And Uncle Sam might want a piece of it. But don’t stress just yet—there are exclusions you might qualify for that could save you big bucks.

2. Transfer Tax – The Title Transfer Toll

Also known as the real estate transfer tax, this is usually charged by your local or state government when the home title transfers from you to the buyer. The rate varies, but it’s something you’ll want to factor into your budget. For example, it can range from $100 to $500.

3. Property Tax – The Ongoing Obligation

You’re probably familiar with this one. You pay it every year based on your property’s assessed value. But remember, you’ll need to account for property taxes up until the day you sell your home.

What if You Rented Out Your Home?

Let’s say you converted your home into a rental property at some point. Does this affect your taxes? Absolutely. The taxes when selling your house if it was a rental can complicate things a bit. You’ll need to account for depreciation recapture, which essentially means paying back some of the tax benefits you received from depreciation deductions while renting out the property. It’s a bit of a balancing act, so getting advice from a tax pro is a smart move here.

Special Considerations for Inherited and Gifted Homes

Inheriting or being gifted a home comes with its own set of unique capital gains tax rules, and the rules depend on the state in which you live. So make sure you understand the most current tax laws, and it is advisable to consult with a tax professional.

If you have inherited a property, your cost basis may not be what the previous owner paid for the house but its fair market value at the time of their death – again, depending on where you live. This ‘step-up’ in basis can considerably reduce your taxable gain upon sale, substantially impacting your capital gains tax liability.

On the flip side, gifted homes may retain the original owner’s cost basis, and again, check with a tax professional in your area. This means the cost basis is what the original owner paid for the house, not its value when it was gifted to you. Although this might seem like a minor detail, it’s a significant distinction that could affect your capital gains tax when you sell the house.

We cannot stress enough that it is advisable to consult with a tax advisor to understand the implications and your special situation fully.

Tax-Savvy Tips: Minimizing Your Liability

Now that you’re aware of the taxes, how can you minimize them? Here are some savvy tips:

    1. Time Your Sale Right: Live in your home for at least two of the last five years and use it as your primary residence.
    2. What about Those Home Improvements? Did you invest in significant home improvements? They can increase the purchase price of your home and possibly reduce your capital gains tax. You’ll need the receipts!
    3. Buy a New Home and Benefit from a Section 1031 Exchange: A Section 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, allows you to defer capital gains taxes when you sell a property and reinvest the proceeds into another property of a similar kind.

Taxes When Selling Your House FAQs

  • What taxes do I have to pay when I sell my home? Expect to potentially pay capital gains tax, transfer tax, and property tax.
  • How can I dodge taxes when selling my home? Consider timing your sale right or adjusting your purchase price.
  • How does the IRS know I’ve sold my home? The IRS typically finds out through real estate transaction records.
  • What happens if I sell my home for a profit? If you make a profit, you may owe capital gains tax, but there are exclusions for qualifying homeowners.

And there you have it, folks! Keep in mind that each seller’s financial situation is unique, so consider consulting with a tax professional before making big decisions. Now go forth and sell that home with confidence!

At, we’re here to guide you through every step of your real estate journey. Understanding the taxes incurred when you sell your home is just one of the many resources we provide to help you achieve your real estate goals.

Keep exploring our many helpful articles and resources, and stay informed on the latest news. Sign up here for news on what’s important to you. Your real estate dreams await! With as your partner, you have the power to make them yours.


  • Beth McNeill, PhD

    Beth McNeill is a distinguished content creator and educator, holding a doctorate in sociology. Renowned for her expertise in the evolution and assimilation of scientific and technological knowledge, Beth has made significant contributions through her writings, which have been featured in both professional journals and major news publications. With over two decades of experience, she has also established herself as a compelling public speaker and a university professor, sharing her insights and knowledge with a wide range of audiences.

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