Capital gains tax update for home sellers. If you are considering selling your South Bay home, find out about the tax benefits. Find current South Bay homes for sale, Realtors®, and current home values in Southern California's South Bay. Find real estate listings with our free home search and South Bay MLS access, open houses, real estate agents, and our South Bay Brokers listings. Our free real estate services feature all South Bay cities and neighborhoods including Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, El Segundo, Hollywood Riviera, Hawthorne, Hollyglen, and Palos Verdes.  
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Capital Gains Tax Update for South Bay Home Sellers

The following are eleven of the most commonly asked question regarding the new tax bill signed by
President Clinton on August 5, 1997.

  1. Will the tax bill impact the real estate industry?
    Yes! The bill makes significant changes that will benefit real estate including capital gains tax exclusions on the sale of a principal residence, a reduction in overall capital gains rates, penalty-free withdrawals from existing and new IRAs for the purchase of a home by a first time buyer, increased deductions for health insurance premiums for the self employed, clarifications for the home office deduction requirements and reduced estate taxes.
  2. If I sell my home how will I be impacted?
    The new tax bill grants married couples up to a $500,000 capital gains tax exclusion for the sale of a principal residence where the owner has resided two of the last five years. Singles enjoy a $250,000 exclusion. Any profits in excess of the caps will be taxed
    at the new lower capital gains tax rate. Best of all, this principal residence exclusion can be reused over and over again.
  3. Can I still “rollover” the proceeds from a home sale if I purchase a home of greater or equal value?
    No. The ‘rollover’ provision in current law which allowed an individual to avoid capital gains taxes by
    purchasing a home of equal or greater value has been repealed in favor of the exclusion.
  4. What if I am over 55 years of age and I already used my on-time exclusion of $125,000? Can I take advantage of the new law?
    Yes. Although the $125,000 exclusion for individuals over the age of 55 has been repealed, the new
    law allows any couple, regardless of age, to exclude from taxes up to $500,000 in capital gains or $250,000 for singles every two years for an unlimited number of transactions involving their principal residence.
  5. I sold my home before the President signed the bill. Do I still qualify for a capital gains tax exclusion?
    Maybe. Sellers and buyers who have signed a “binding contract” between May 7, 1997 and the day President Clinton signed the bill (August 5) are authorized to use either the existing rollover law or take advantage of the new tax provisions. Individuals who signed a contract prior to May 6, 1997 would be bound by the tax laws in effect at the time. For home sales after the August 5 date, the new tax laws are applicable, although some individuals who are in the midst of a two year rollover period, following an earlier sale, may be able to take advantage of the new exclusion.
  6. Are losses on the sale of a residence deductible?
    No. Taxpayers still cannot deduct losses on the sale of their residence.
  7. What are the new capital gains rates? Capital gains rates are based on the previous rate of 28% to 20% for those in upper income brackets and from 15% to 10% for those in lower tax brackets for
    assets sold after May 6, 1997. Overall capital gains rates will be lowered even further in 2001, to 18% and 8% respectively, for assets purchased after December 31, 2000 and held five years or more. No indexing of capital gains were included.
  8. Has the holding period for assets to qualify for capital gains tax treatment changed?
    Yes. Effective July 29, 1997 assets must be held at least 18 months to qualify for capital gains treatment. Previously, assets held 12 months were eligible for capital gains treatment.
  9. Is investment property taxed differently than other assets under the new bill?
    The new budget plan specifies that at the time of sale of an investment property, any gains due to appreciation will be taxed at a reduced 20% rate and gains due to “depreciation recapture” will be taxed at 25%.
  10. Have the rules governing 1031 “like kind” exchanges changed?
    No. Despite reports that these rules might have been significantly changed, no provisions were included in the bill.
  11. Can I withdraw money from my Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for the purchase of a home?
    The tax bill allows penalty-free withdrawals by grandparents, parents, children, spouses or principals of up to $10,000 from existing and newly created “American Dream” IRAs for the down payment and closing costs of purchasing a first-time home, after December 31, 1997.

    All of these matters are subject to interpretation.
    Please consult your tax advisor.
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