More information on the non-carry-over feature of selling one's primary residence.
IRC section 121 allows a taxpayer to exclude up to $250,000 ($500,000 for certain taxpayers who file a joint return) of the gain from the sale (or exchange) of property owned and used as a principal residence for at least two of the five years before the sale. A taxpayer can claim the full exclusion only once every two years. A reduced exclusion is available to anyone who does not meet these requirements because of a change in place of employment, health or certain unforeseen circumstances. Unlike under former law, the gain on the sale of a house is now permanently excluded, rather than deferred, and a taxpayer doesn’t have to purchase a replacement home to exclude the gain.
If a taxpayer excludes the entire gain on the sale from income, the transaction is not reported on his or her tax return. If any part of the gain is taxable, he or she reports the sale on schedule D of form 1040. Alternatively, a taxpayer can elect to include the gain from a sale by reporting it on his or her tax return. For example, someone who realizes gains on the sale of two principal residences within two years can exclude the gain on only one. Most would want to recognize the smaller gain and exclude the larger. Since the exclusion applies automatically to the first disposition, a taxpayer would need to elect to be taxed on this one if it is the smaller of the two.
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