I want to transfer my house title to my child, what are the costs and tax consequences of doing so?
The costs associated with a deed transfer will vary by state and by how the transfer is accomplished. Filing a deed yourself may be the cheapest method, but it will require quite a bit of homework to ensure you have filled out and correctly filed the appropriate paperwork. Online legal document centers, such as LegalZoom, offer deed transfer services for around $250, plus filing fees. These services typically include title research, creation of the real estate deed and filing of the deed with the county recorder's office. You can also hire a real estate attorney to execute the deed transfer. This might be the most expensive option, but it may also be the least stressful since you would be certain the transfer was executed appropriately.
Tax consequences can end up costing your child more money than if he or she were to inherit the property. Assume you purchased your home years ago for $50,000. Over the years you put $20,000 into the home. It has a current market value of $250,000. Because you transferred the home to your child while you were still living, your cost basis, which would be $70,000, becomes your child's basis. If your child sells the home, he or she would owe capital gains taxes on the difference between the sale price and the cost basis, which would be $180,000. At a capital gains rate of 15%, that would equal $27,000 in taxes. The tax rate will be higher if you owned the home for less than one year, at which point the profit would be taxed as ordinary income.
If your child moves in and lives in the property for at least two out of five years before selling it, up to $250,000 of profit can be excluded. However, $500,000 can be excluded if filing jointly with a spouse. Your child will have to use your cost basis of $70,000, which includes the $50,000 purchase price plus the $20,000 in improvement costs.
If your child inherits the property upon your death, the child will receive the "stepped-up basis" where the value of the property on the date of your death becomes the child's basis. So, if the property has a market value of $250,000 at the time of your death, your child could sell the home for $250,000 and not be responsible for capital gains tax.
It has been suggested that the stepped-up basis rule could be modified in the future. Since tax rules do change, it is important to consult with a qualified tax specialist before making any decisions.
Depending on the market value of the house, transferring the house to your children could be a “gift” from you to them in the eyes of uncle Sam. What does that mean to you? Possible gift tax. For 2018, an amount of gift above $15k will need to file a tax return. Considering a much higher amount of lifetime gift exemption of $11,200,000 (single) or $22,400,000 (couple), you may not pay any tax in reality, but please consult with your CPA or estate planning attorney for your particular situation.
Besides the tax concern, a more practical matter is if you have everything else taken care of, such as your living expenses, medical cost, future long-term care cost, etc. before you give the house away. Realistically speaking, most people use their home as a form of investment, hoping to access this pot of savings someday to supplement their retirement expenditures or other financial goals.
A better way for you to do right now is to consult with a CFP® who will guide you properly once knowing your finance in a deep level. Best!