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Tax Implications of Selling an Inherited House: Understanding How Profits Are Taxed

florida cash home buyers

Selling an inherited house can have significant tax implications, and it’s crucial to understand how the profits from the sale are taxed to make informed financial decisions. The tax treatment varies based on the inherited property, the selling price, and the time the property was held before the sale. This article sheds light on the various tax aspects of selling an inherited house in the United States.

Step-up in Basis

When someone inherits a house, the property’s tax basis is adjusted to its fair market value (FMV) on the original owner’s death date. The adjustment is known as a “step-up in basis.” The step-up in basis erases any capital gains accrued during the deceased owner’s lifetime. As a result, the beneficiary’s new basis for tax purposes is equal to the FMV of the property at the time of inheritance, especially for florida cash home buyers. It can significantly benefit the inheritor by reducing or eliminating potential capital gains taxes on the sale.

Determining the Taxable Gain

To determine the taxable gain on the sale of an inherited house, one must compare the selling price with the stepped-up basis for cash home buyers florida. A capital gain has occurred if the selling price is higher than the stepped-up basis. On the other hand, if the selling price is lower than the stepped-up basis, a capital loss has occurred. If the property’s value increases after the original owner’s death but before the sale, the beneficiary will only be taxed on the post-inheritance appreciation, not the entire value of the property at the time of sale, especially based on florida cash home buyers reviews.

Different Tax Rules for Primary Residence and Investment Property

The tax treatment of an inherited house can differ based on whether it was the decedent’s primary residence or investment property.

Inherited Primary Residence:

Suppose the inherited property was the decedent’s primary residence, and the beneficiary sells it within two years of the owner’s death. In that case, the beneficiary can claim an exclusion from capital gains taxes. However, to qualify for this exclusion, the beneficiary must meet certain criteria:

– The beneficiary must have used the property as their primary residence for at least two of the last five years before the sale.

– The two-year ownership and use period can be a combination of when the beneficiary owned the property and when the deceased owner lived in it.

If the beneficiary does not meet the above criteria or sells the property after two years, any capital gains exceeding the exclusion limit will be subject to capital gains taxes.

Inherited Investment Property:

Suppose the inherited property is an investment property or not used as the beneficiary’s primary residence. In that case, it will generally be subject to capital gains taxes on the difference between the selling price and the stepped-up basis. The applicable capital gains tax rate depends on the property’s holding period, especially for cash buyers in florida.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Capital Gains

The tax rates for capital gains differ based on how long the property was held before the sale:

A. Short-Term Capital Gains:

If the inherited property is sold within one year of the original owner’s death, any gain will be considered a short-term capital gain. Short-term capital gains are taxed at ordinary income tax rates, which means they are subject to the individual’s regular tax bracket. 

B. Long-Term Capital Gains:

If the inherited property is sold more than one year after the original owner’s death, any gain will be treated as a long-term capital gain. Long-term capital gains are typically subject to lower tax rates than short-term gains, especially for florida cash buyers.

State Taxes

In addition to federal taxes, beneficiaries must consider state taxes on the sale of an inherited property, especially for florida cash home buyers. State tax laws vary; some states may impose capital gains or income tax on the sale. The rates and rules differ from state to state, so beneficiaries should be aware of their specific state’s tax implications.

Special Circumstances

Certain special circumstances can affect the tax treatment of selling an inherited house:

A. Inherited Property with a Mortgage:

If the inherited property has an outstanding mortgage, the beneficiary will typically inherit the property subject to the existing mortgage. The outstanding mortgage balance is not considered when determining the taxable gain. However, the mortgage may impact the beneficiary’s financial considerations when deciding whether to keep or sell the property.

B. Partial Step-up in Basis:

Sometimes, an inherited property may receive a partial step-up on a basis. For example, if the property is co-owned by the surviving spouse and the decedent, only the decedent’s share receives a step-up basis. The surviving spouse’s portion may receive a step-up in basis when they pass away, subject to certain conditions.

C. Property Held in Trust

If the inherited property is held in a trust, the tax implications may differ depending on the type of trust and its provisions. Some trusts may provide specific instructions regarding property sales or tax distributions to beneficiaries. Reviewing the trust agreement and consulting with a qualified professional to understand the tax implications fully, especially as we buy houses pensacola.

Reporting the Sale

When the beneficiary sells an inherited house, the sale must be reported on their federal income tax return. The sale should be reported on Schedule D (Capital Gains and Losses) of Form 1040. Typically when you sell a home for more than you paid for it, you have to pay capital gains tax. It can range from zero to 20%, depending on your income. Your capital gain on your home sale is determined by subtracting the purchase price from the home’s current value. And you could be eligible for an exclusion up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) if you’ve lived in the property for at least two of the previous five years.(1) It’s essential to accurately report the selling price, the stepped-up basis, and any associated expenses related to the sale.


Selling an inherited house can have significant tax implications, but the step-up in basis provides a valuable tax benefit for beneficiaries. Understanding the tax treatment of inherited property sales can help beneficiaries make informed decisions and plan their finances accordingly. Selling an inherited house is a complex financial transaction, and professional guidance can help navigate the intricacies of the tax code and maximize the after-tax proceeds from the sale.

Greg Baker

Greg is a resident of Pensacola, FL and has been investing in real estate since 2004. Greg Baker is the passionate founder of Greg Buys Houses, a trusted and reliable cash home buying company based in the beautiful city of Pensacola, FL. With a heart for helping homeowners facing difficult situations, Greg strives to provide personalized solutions that work for each unique situation. He understands the stress and uncertainty that can come with selling a home, and his commitment to honesty, transparency, and empathy has earned him a reputation as a caring and knowledgeable professional. Whether you're facing foreclosure, divorce, or just need to sell quickly, Greg and his team are here to guide you every step of the way.

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