top of page

What is the impact of capital gains tax when selling an inherited property?

Capital gains tax can be a perplexing concept, especially when it comes to selling an inherited property. Many individuals are unaware of the potential impact this tax may have on their financial outcome.

Understanding Capital Gains Tax: A Brief Overview

Capital gains tax is a type of tax that is imposed on the profit made from selling an asset, such as an inherited property. The tax is calculated by subtracting the original purchase price (known as the "basis") from the final selling price. If the selling price is higher than the basis, then capital gains tax will be owed on that difference.

How Capital Gains Tax Rates are Determined

The rate at which you are taxed on your capital gains depends on how long you held onto the asset before selling it. Generally, assets held for less than a year are subject to short-term capital gains tax, which aligns with your ordinary income tax rate. For assets held for longer than one year, they qualify for long-term capital gains tax rates that are generally lower than regular income tax rates.

Exceptions and Exemptions

There may be certain exceptions or exemptions available depending on your individual circumstances. For instance, if you sell an inherited property as part of settling an estate after someone's passing, there may be a stepped-up basis provision that adjusts the original purchase price to its value at the time of inheritance. This can potentially reduce or eliminate any taxable gain upon selling. It's essential to consult with a professional accountant or financial advisor who can guide you through these complexities and help minimize your obligations when it comes to capital gains taxes.

How Capital Gains Tax Applies to Inherited Properties

When selling an inherited property, it's important to understand how capital gains tax applies. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Step-up in Basis: Unlike other assets, when you inherit a property, the cost basis is "stepped up" to its value at the time of inheritance. This means that your capital gains tax will be calculated based on the difference between the sale price and the stepped-up basis.

  2. Long-term vs Short-term Capital Gains: If you sell the inherited property within a year of inheriting it, any profit you make will be considered short-term capital gains and taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. However, if you hold onto the property for more than a year before selling it, any profit will be classified as long-term capital gains which are typically subject to lower tax rates.

  3. Exclusion for Primary Residence: If you choose to move into the inherited property and make it your primary residence for at least two years before selling it, you may qualify for a capital gains exclusion of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if married filing jointly). This can help reduce or eliminate capital gains taxes altogether.

Understanding these key points about how capital gains tax applies to inherited properties can help you make informed decisions when selling an inherited property and potentially minimize your tax liability.

Strategies to Minimize Capital Gains Tax on Inherited Property

Take advantage of the stepped-up basis.

When you inherit property, it is valued at its fair market price on the day the previous owner passed away. This means that if you sell the inherited property soon after inheriting it, your capital gains will be minimal or even non-existent because there hasn't been much time for appreciation in value. So, one strategy to minimize capital gains tax is to sell the property shortly after inheriting it.

Utilize primary residence exclusion.

If you plan to make the inherited property your primary residence, then you may be eligible for a capital gains exclusion when selling it. The IRS allows individuals an exclusion up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples) of profit from selling their primary residence if they have lived in it for at least two out of five years before selling. By living in and making the inherited property your primary residence before selling it, you can potentially avoid paying any capital gains tax.

By implementing these strategies- taking advantage of stepped-up basis and utilizing primary residence exclusion-, you can significantly reduce or eliminate capital gains tax when selling an inherited property. It’s important to consult with a tax professional who can provide personalized advice based on your individual circumstances and help ensure that you are maximizing any available savings opportunities while staying compliant with applicable laws and regulations.


Need assistance with your taxes? We do taxes all year round!

5 views0 comments


bottom of page