It depends. Painting can be included as a selling cost, but some structural improvements may increase the cost basis used to determine if there was a gain or loss when the house was sold. If the improvements have a useful life of more than one year, then the amount of that improvement can be added to the cost basis of the house.
Here is some more information:
You can deduct any reasonable and customary expenses to get your house sold, and yes, this includes painting. It also includes all those fees you pay at closing, plus any improvements that prolong the useful life of the house. The IRS says that the following improvements will increase your cost basis in the house:
- Additions and other improvements that have a useful life of more than one year
- Special assessments for local improvements
- Amounts you spent after a casualty to restore damaged property.
The Adjusted Basis section of IRS Publication 523 offers a complete list of possible adjustments you can make to your cost basis.
Please note this about any gain on the sale of your home (your personal residence):
You won’t pay taxes on the first $250,000 (also known as a gain) you make from the sale of your home. If you file jointly, you won’t pay taxes on the first $500,000.
That income is free and clear as long as:
- You owned the home
- It was your main home for two years or more within the five years leading up to the sale
- You waited at least two years between selling your primary home and excluding your first $250,000 or $500,000 from taxes. In other words, you may buy and sell as many primary homes as you'd like, but you'll only get this tax benefit every two years.