Generally, you are required to include the gain from the sale of your home in your taxable income. However, if the gain is from your primary home, you may exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) gain from income, if you meet certain requirements. This is referred to as maximum exclusion.

If the gain exceeds $250,000, the excess amount must be reported on Schedule D of your tax return.

In order to be eligible to exclude up to $250,000, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must meet the "ownership and use" test. Under this requirement, you must have owned the home for at least two years, and have lived in it as your primary residence for at least two years. This two-year period must be within the five-year period ending on the date you sold your home.
  • You did not exclude from your income the gain of a sale from another home during the two-year period ending on the date of the sale of the home for which the exclusion is being claimed.

If you shared ownership in the home, but you and the other owner file separate returns, you may each exclude up to $250,000 from your income, if you both meet the requirements listed above.

If you are married, you may be subject to additional requirements.

For detailed information about the eligibility requirements for this exclusion, refer to IRS Publication 523, which also includes information about the reduced maximum exclusion for individuals who are not eligible to claim the maximum exclusion.

To read more frequently asked tax questions, seeTax Tips For The Individual Investor, Common Tax Questions Answered and How can I tell if I'm eligible for an EITC?

Question answered by Denise Appleby, CISP, CRC, CRPS, CRSP, APA

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