Your Guide to Taxes When Selling a House

Taxes when selling a house

Are you looking forward to paying taxes when selling your house? If you’re like most taxpayers, the thought of a large tax bill is unappealing.

With so many taxes you have to pay, it stands to reason that you would be relieved when selling your most valuable asset – your real estate- and not have to add another tax payment. If you’re looking to keep as much of your money from the sale of your home and out of Uncle Sam’s hands, you’ve come to the perfect spot.

We’ll provide guidance on taxes due when selling a house and also offer numerous strategies for reducing or even eliminating this tax burden during a home sale.

Types of Taxes When Selling a House

You might be responsible for two types of taxes selling a house: prorated property tax, transfer tax, and capital gains tax.

Property Tax

When a property is sold, prorated property taxes are divided proportionally between a buyer and seller. This ensures that each party pays their fair share of the taxes based on the time they have owned the property.

If a seller has acknowledged a property for eight months out of the year, they would be responsible for 8/12ths of the total tax amount due.

The proration process typically occurs at closing, where an escrow account is set up to ensure that all parties pay their respective amounts. The escrow account also helps ensure that any unpaid taxes from previous years are taken care of before the sale of a home is finalized.

Transfer Tax

Transfer taxes are imposed when a property is sold from one owner to another. These real estate taxes are typically based on the home value and can be charged by either a state or local government.

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains tax can be excluded from your taxes if you meet specific qualifications. Here is a list of qualifications for the home exclusion:

  • The property must have been owned and used as your primary residence for at least two of the five years before the sale.
  • You must not have taken advantage of the home exclusion in the past two years.
  • You must not exceed certain income limits set by the IRS.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien and file a joint return with your spouse if married.
  • The maximum amount that can be excluded is $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers.

A primary residence, also known as a principal residence, is where an individual lives most of the time. It can be a house, condo, or townhome and does not have to be owned by the individual. The primary residence is used for tax purposes and typically has legal implications regarding mortgages and other financial matters.

When considering selling your home, you must check with your local laws and consult a tax professional.

Everything You Need to Know About Capital Gains Tax

When selling a home, it’s essential to understand the capital gains tax that may be due. Capital gains tax is the tax on profits realized when an asset is sold for more than its purchase price. The capital gains tax you pay depends on your income level and how long you have owned the home.

It is crucial to understand the difference between profits and proceeds:

  • Profits are calculated by subtracting the cost of purchasing the home from the total amount received from the sale.
  • Proceeds are the whole amount received from the sale after deducting all closing costs, expenses, and mortgage balances.

Capital gains taxes are imposed on profits exceeding a certain threshold amount.

Short-term capital gains are taxed at the same rate as your regular income, while long-term capital gains are typically taxed at a lower rate. Most individuals’ maximum long-term capital gains tax rate is 15%. However, if your taxable income exceeds certain thresholds, some or all of your net capital gain may be taxed at 0%.

It’s also important to note that if you have lived in the home for two out of the last five years before you sell it, up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if married filing jointly) of any profit from the sale can be excluded from taxation.

Everything You Need to Know About Capital Gains Tax By State

Many people wonder if they must pay capital gains tax when selling a home. The answer depends on the state where you live and how much profit you make from the sale.

The capital gains tax rate in Pennsylvania is 3.07%. This rate applies to both long-term and short-term gains and is in addition to the Federal rate, which is based on your tax bracket and can be either 15% or 20%.

States that do not have additional state taxes on capital gains on real estate transactions include the following:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wyoming

However, keep in mind that you may still be subject to federal taxes on your profits from the sale of your home.

How Much Taxes Do You Pay When Selling a Home

Selling a home can be a stressful process, especially when it comes to taxes. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers several tax breaks for homeowners who sell their primary residence. Generally speaking, you can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from your income if you are single and up to $500,000 if married and filing jointly.

To qualify for this exclusion, you must have owned and lived in the home as your primary residence for at least two of the five years before the sale. You cannot have used this exclusion in the past two years. If you do not meet these requirements, any profit made on the sale of your home is subject to capital gains tax rates of 0%, 15%, or 20%.

Any profits made are subject to capital gains tax rates if you sell an investment property or second home. The long-term capital gains tax rates are 15 percent, 20 percent, and 28 percent (for certain particular asset types), depending on your taxable income.

Can You Avoid Taxes When Selling a House

Yes, it is possible to avoid taxes when selling a house. The most common way to do this is by living in the house for at least two years and meeting the requirements set out by the IRS.

This allows single filers to exclude up to $250,000 of profits, and married couples filing together can exclude up to $500,000.

Other options include offsetting capital gains with capital losses or using a charitable remainder trust (CRT). It’s important to note that tax laws vary from state to state, so be sure to research your local laws before attempting any of these strategies.

Tax Breaks

You may be eligible for various tax breaks and exemptions when selling your home. The most common is capital gains exclusion. This means that any profits made on the sale of your home will not be subject to capital gains taxes.

You may also be able to deduct certain expenses related to the sale of your home, such as selling costs, home improvements and repairs, property taxes, and mortgage interest.

Losses on personal residence sales are not deductible unless you have converted the property into a rental. If you plan on buying another home after selling your current one, avoiding paying capital gains taxes within two years of the sale is possible.

Taxes on Vacation Home or Second Home

When selling a vacation, second home, or rental property, the taxes you must pay depend on the state where you reside. Generally, you will be required to pay capital gains taxes on any profits made from the sale of your property.

When you file a tax return, you can deduct capital improvements and depreciation. These tax deductions may reduce the amount of taxable gain you have due to your home sale.

Some states may require you to pay an income tax based on the money earned from the sale. You’ll need to check with your local tax authority for specific details about what taxes will be due when selling a vacation or second home.

How to calculate taxes when selling a house

How to Calculate Taxes When Selling a House

When selling your home, you may be subject to capital gains taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows you to exclude up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 if married and filing jointly) on the sale of your home, provided that you meet a few requirements.

To determine how much tax is owed from the sale of your property, you must first calculate your capital gains. This is done by subtracting the cost basis (the amount you paid for the property) from the sales price. Depending on your income level and how long you held the asset, this gain will be taxed between 0% and 37% federally.

You can use capital gains calculators to get a general idea about how to calculate taxes when selling a house:

Contact a CPA or personal finance professional for the best information about your circumstances.


When selling your house, you may be subject to federal taxes. Depending on your tax filing status, the IRS offers a home exclusion of up to $250,000 of capital gains for home sellers. For instance, If you are married and filing jointly, the amount doubles to $500,000. You must pay taxes on the remainder if your capital gains exceed this amount.

Selling a property to a cash buyer can be an effective way to mitigate your tax liability. When selling to a cash buyer, you don’t have to wait for the buyer to secure financing. This means you will receive full and timely payment and reinvest tax-free money into your next home.

An added benefit is that you don’t have to pay closing costs and other fees sellers incur when selling a house. You also get to skip the hassle of dealing with a real estate agent and their commissions.

One strategy savvy real estate sellers use to reduce taxes is selling to cash home buyers in Pennsylvania.

Do you need to sell a house fast in Philadelphia or the surrounding areas? Or maybe you live out in Chester County and need to sell your home? You’re in luck because we buy houses in Malvern, too!

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