No Capital Gains Tax on Home Exchange?

IRS worker touts perk, but CPA disagrees

by Benny Kass, Inman News

DEAR BENNY: My husband and I built a townhouse in 1983 for $33,000. We lived there for a few years and then rented it out for 17 years, taking all the tax advantages such as depreciation, etc.

In 2003 we sold it for $90,000, and did a like-kind exchange with a house that my husband built. That house has been rented for the past six years and now has a market value of $190,000. We have no liens on the home and would like to sell it and put the money towards our dream home.

If we moved into the home and lived there for two years, would we have to pay capital gains taxes when we sell the home? We’ve asked our certified public accountant (CPA) and she said we would have to pay capital gains because we took depreciation on the properties.

We also asked a friend who worked for the Internal Revenue Service and he said as long as we lived in the home for at least two out of the last five years before we sold the home, we would not have to pay capital gains tax. Who is correct? –Jeanne

DEAR JEANNE: I believe your CPA is correct. Any depreciation that you took after May 6, 1997, will be taxed.

And based on a new 2008 tax law, the gain must be allocated between the rental and the personal use starting after Dec. 31, 2008. The portion of the gain allocated to the rental period will be taxed. I would always follow the advice of your paid accountant, rather than that of a friend, even if he or she works for the IRS.

Copyright 2010 Benny L. Kass

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