A stack of tax forms required for an inherited house.

Selling any asset for more than you paid for it can trigger capital gains taxes. But what if you didn’t pay for it, but rather inherited it? Unfortunately, you can still be on the hook for taxes if you inherited a house and want to sell it.

What Is Capital Gains Tax?

There is often a false assumption that the capital gains tax only applies to rich people, but in reality, the things many of us own (car, big screen TV, stocks and bonds, home) all count as capital assets. If you ever sell those things for more than you paid to acquire them, you may be facing a tax burden.

This tax comes into play often in real estate transactions. If you bought a home for $100,000 years ago, but the area has become a hot spot and you’re now able to sell it for $400,000, that $300,000 in profit you made will be subject to taxation. Thankfully, there are ways to qualify for exemptions so that you’re not penalized for the entirety of the gain.

Capital gains tax on inherited property behaves a little differently though. Since you didn’t purchase the home in the first place, the calculation for profit is done on what is called a “stepped-up basis.”

Say your Aunt Marge bought the home for $75,000 back in 1950, but you’re able to sell it for $250,000. Instead of being taxed on the full $175,000 difference, you’ll only be taxed on the difference between the sale price and the fair market value at the time of her death.

In order to find out the stepped-up basis of the home, you’ll need to have it appraised as soon as possible after the owner’s death. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with and whether it’s a good idea to hold on to the house or to go ahead and sell it.

What Are the 2019 Rates?

Tax rates change slightly every year based on inflation and other political factors. For the 2019 tax year, the tax percentages on capital gains range from zero percent to 20 percent, depending on the amount of profit you made from the sale.

If you’re single, you won’t be taxed on any gains under $39,375. If you make between $39,376 and $434,550, your rate will be 15 percent. Over $434,551 and you’ll be charged a 20 percent rate.

If you’re married, those thresholds increase, and anything under $78,750 will be exempt. $75,751 to $488,850 will be at a 15 percent rate, and anything over $488,851 will be at 20 percent.

How Can I Avoid It?

Receiving bequeathed property from a loved one, while a beautiful gesture, can be very stressful. You can avoid the capital gains tax by making the home your primary residence for two years, thus qualifying you for the homeowner’s exemption on any gains under $250,000 (if you’re single) or $500,000 (if you’re married).

But if you already have an established home, moving into the house may not be an option. It could be in another neighborhood, city, or even state. It might be too small for your family’s needs, and you may have no interest in maintaining it and renting it out. (Landlord life isn’t for everyone!)

If you inherited a house and want to sell it, the last thing you need is to be punished financially for it. The best way to avoid paying capital gains tax on inherited property is to sell it as soon as possible. If you’re not interested in fixing up the home or going through the long, often costly process of navigating the traditional real estate market, a cash homebuying company could be a great option for you.

Meridian Trust has worked with hundreds of sellers after inheriting property from a loved one. We work exclusively with individuals and can have you at the closing table within 30 days. Give us a call today to get started!

Scrabble letters spelling "TAX" on top of US dollars.

Inheriting a house can be incredibly overwhelming. While it’s wonderful to know that someone you cared for trusted you enough to appoint you the caretaker of their home after their passing, it can also be a big financial strain.

There are a number of tax implications that come into play when you inherit a house. And they will vary drastically depending upon what you do next. Let’s break down the types of taxes you may be required to pay when you receive or attempt to sell an inherited house.

1. Estate Tax

This tax is thankfully one that most people don’t have to worry about. The current federal minimum for the estate tax to be levied is $11.8 million. In other words, the deceased’s entire estate (including all real estate, cash, and assets like stocks or bonds) has to add up to more than $11.8 million before the federal government will tax it.

A dozen states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) plus the District of Columbia, however, do levy their own taxes on estates as well. The threshold for these is much lower than the federal minimum, but it still floats somewhere around $1 million.

2. Inheritance Tax

This tax is collected only at the state level. It has stipulations, and its application varies from state to state. As of 2018, six states collect an inheritance tax: Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The tax rate in each of these states is different and may be anywhere from one percent to 20 percent of the value of the house or other assets you’ve inherited.

There are exemptions, of course, and again, this tax is often not levied on those heirs whose inheritance is valued below $2 million. There are also allowances depending on your relationship to the deceased. No taxes are applied when a spouse inherits a property in one of these states, and of the six listed, only Nebraska and Pennsylvania collect taxes on property that’s passed from a parent to their child or grandchild.

3. Property Tax

When you become the owner of an inherited home, you will, of course, become responsible for the property taxes owed. You’ll keep paying these as long as you own the house. Depending on the location of the inherited home, this could mean having a significant new bill on your plate.

Whenever someone inherits a home (just like if they bought one), the property is reassessed at the current market value to determine what taxes should be paid on it. While many states do cap how much property taxes can rise from year to year, there is a decent chance this reassessment could bring an increased tax burden compared to what your loved one was paying before their passing.

Some states do allow for exclusions for spouses and children or grandchildren. But to receive this often involves reapplying for exemption programs, which can be labor-intensive and cost you quite a bit of time and energy.

4. Capital Gains Tax

This tax is the biggest factor at play if you inherit a house and want to sell it. If you sell an inherited house for more than its value at the time your loved one passed away, you’re going to owe taxes on that gain. If the house sells for less than its value, that is considered a capital loss, and you’ll owe no taxes.

Thankfully you’ll qualify for what’s known as a “stepped up basis” when it comes to calculating the taxes owed. Say your mother bought the home for $100,000 decades ago, but it’s now valued at $250,000. If you sell it for $275,000, you only owe taxes on a $25,000 gain, rather than owing a portion of the $175,000 difference between the original purchase and final sale prices.

There is also a way to make yourself exempt from this tax. If you make the home your primary residence for at least two years before selling it, you will qualify for an exclusion. This means you can sell it and keep whatever profit you make without having to pay anything in capital gains taxes.

Stay, Rent, or Sell?

When inheriting a property, you have a few options. You can:

  • Move into the home and make it your primary residence.
  • Rent the home out.
  • Sell the home.

Moving in can be a good option if the home is fully paid off and you could use a break from paying rent on your own place. Owning and living in the home, however, does mean you’re on the hook for property taxes and utilities, plus any upkeep. It also may not be an option if the house you inherit is located in a different geographical area than your current job and you’re unwilling or unable to move.

Renting could be a good fit if you already own your own home or you live in a different town or state than the house you’ve inherited. The funds generated from renting the home could offset the cost of upkeep and any tax or mortgage payments. Some people aren’t cut out to be landlords, though, and you’ll run the risk of tenants damaging the home or falling behind on payments.

Selling an inherited home is often the best available route for an heir. As mentioned above, consider how the capital gains tax will affect you before jumping into selling, but if you’re not prepared to live in the home or manage renting it out for the foreseeable future, selling it and getting it off your plate is usually the easiest solution.

Meridian Trust has worked with a number of sellers after they inherited a property. We work exclusively with individuals and can close on your property in just 30 days. If you’ve recently inherited a house and want to sell it, please call us today.

It’s always an honor to have a loved one trust you enough to bequeath their property to you upon their passing. But honor doesn’t remove the challenges that will come with managing or caring for their home.

Perhaps you’d been renting and, now with this inheritance, you have a home to call your own. But what if you already have a home (and all the financial responsibilities that come along with it)? Or maybe the house is located in a place you don’t care to live, or you’re simply not at a point in your life where you can take on the role of a homeowner?

In this case, selling will most likely be your best option. However, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before you embark on your journey to sell an inherited house in Florida.

Taxes

Selling a home you inherited in Florida could leave you either holding the bag and owing taxes to the federal government or due a tax deduction on your yearly income. It’s all going to depend on the value of the home, the final selling price, and the timeline of the sale in relation to your relative’s death.

If you want to avoid the tax altogether, you can live in the house for a period of two or more years. Then, any profit you make from its sale after that time will no longer be subject to the capital gains tax. (Note: This exclusion maxes out at $250,000 profit if you’re single and $500,000 profit if you’re married).

Selling the property, though, is considered using it for “investment purposes,” and you will be taxed on any profit you make from the sale. These taxes will be calculated based on the sale price in relation to the “stepped up basis” (full market value) of the home at the time of the sale.

For example, if your loved one purchased their home for $150,000 originally, but it is currently valued at $275,000, then you could sell it immediately upon your inheritance of it for the current market value of $275,000 and pay no capital gains tax. But say you wait a year and sell it for $300,000; you will then owe taxes on that $25,000 profit.

It is therefore in your best interest, if you plan to sell an inherited home, to do so immediately upon taking ownership of it, unless you plan to live there for a few years first. Otherwise, you may get hit with taxes that you can’t afford to pay right now. Regardless of which route you go, make sure you report the sale to the IRS and properly file the sale as a gain or loss on your tax forms to avoid any trouble down the road.  

Preparations to Sell an Inherited House Fast in Florida

To get ready to sell an inherited house in Florida, you’ll need to prepare the property just as you would with any other home you’re trying to sell. Be aware, though, that the added emotional complication of it being the home of someone you loved who has passed on can be very draining and difficult.

Depending on the state of the home, this step can also be very time-intensive. You’ll need to come prepared to make decisions about what to keep and what to donate, sell, or throw away. When sorting your loved one’s belongings, take the opportunity to reminisce and make sure to set aside any treasured items or memorabilia your family would like to have to remember them by.

After this step, an estate sale is a great way to liquidate items your family isn’t interested in keeping. Depending on your available time and budget, you can organize this yourself or hire a company to do it for you. Once the sale is complete, remove any remaining items from the home and sort them for donation or disposal, so you can move on to the final step of preparation: cleaning.

Again, depending on the way your loved one kept their home, this step could require a straightforward tidying up or a deep clean. You want the home to be at its best before you entertain offers from potential buyers, so if the scope of the mess is beyond your capacity to remediate, you may want to bring in backup in the form of your family or even hire a company to do a deep cleaning.

As you can see, you have a bit of work on your plate if you’re looking to sell an inherited home in Florida. But it doesn’t have to drag out forever! Once you’ve made up your mind to sell and taken the steps necessary to empty and prepare the home, move forward and unload it quickly to avoid getting hit with a major tax burden.

Meridian Trust purchases homes all over Florida, and we’re ready and waiting to help you sell an inherited house. Contact us today, so we can get the ball rolling and help you sell your inherited house in Florida for cash now!

 

Property ladder

If you have recently inherited a house, then you may feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed. From having to clean up the property, dealing with probate and legal issues, and trying to find a buyer, you have got a lot going on. Read more