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Publication 17

Figuring Gain or Loss(p110)

To figure the gain or loss on the sale of your main home, you must know the selling price, the amount realized, and the adjusted basis. Subtract the adjusted basis from the amount realized to get your gain or loss.
  Selling price 
 Selling expenses 
  Amount realized 
  Amount realized 
 Adjusted basis 
  Gain or loss 

Selling Price(p110)

The selling price is the total amount you receive for your home. It includes money and the fair market value of any other property or any other services you receive and all notes, mortgages, or other debts assumed by the buyer as part of the sale.

Payment by employer.(p110)

You may have to sell your home because of a job transfer. If your employer pays you for a loss on the sale or for your selling expenses, do not include the payment as part of the selling price. Your employer will include it as wages in box 1 of your Form W-2, and you will include it in your income on Form 1040, line 7.

Option to buy.(p110)

If you grant an option to buy your home and the option is exercised, add the amount you receive for the option to the selling price of your home. If the option is not exercised, you must report the amount as ordinary income in the year the option expires. Report this amount on Form 1040, line 21.

Form 1099-S.(p110)

If you received Form 1099-S, Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions, box 2 (Gross proceeds) should show the total amount you received for your home.
However, box 2 will not include the fair market value of any services or property other than cash or notes you received or will receive. Instead, box 4 will be checked to indicate your receipt or expected receipt of these items.

Amount Realized(p110)

The amount realized is the selling price minus selling expenses.

Selling expenses.(p110)

Selling expenses include:

Adjusted Basis(p110)

While you owned your home, you may have made adjustments (increases or decreases) to the basis. This adjusted basis must be determined before you can figure gain or loss on the sale of your home. For information on how to figure your home's adjusted basis, see Determining Basis, later.

Amount of Gain or Loss(p110)

To figure the amount of gain or loss, compare the amount realized to the adjusted basis.

Gain on sale.(p110)

If the amount realized is more than the adjusted basis, the difference is a gain and, except for any part you can exclude, in most cases is taxable.

Loss on sale.(p110)

If the amount realized is less than the adjusted basis, the difference is a loss. A loss on the sale of your main home cannot be deducted.

Jointly owned home.(p110)

If you and your spouse sell your jointly owned home and file a joint return, you figure your gain or loss as one taxpayer.
Separate returns.(p110)
If you file separate returns, each of you must figure your own gain or loss according to your ownership interest in the home. Your ownership interest is generally determined by state law.
Joint owners not married.(p110)
If you and a joint owner other than your spouse sell your jointly owned home, each of you must figure your own gain or loss according to your ownership interest in the home. Each of you applies the rules discussed in this chapter on an individual basis.

Dispositions Other Than Sales(p110)

Some special rules apply to other dispositions of your main home.

Foreclosure or repossession.(p110)

If your home was foreclosed on or repossessed, you have a disposition. See Pub. 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments, to determine if you have ordinary income, gain, or loss.


If you abandon your home, see Pub. 4681 to determine if you have ordinary income, gain, or loss.

Trading (exchanging) homes.(p110)

If you trade your old home for another home, treat the trade as a sale and a purchase.


You owned and lived in a home with an adjusted basis of $41,000. A real estate dealer accepted your old home as a trade-in and allowed you $50,000 toward a new home priced at $80,000. This is treated as a sale of your old home for $50,000 with a gain of $9,000 ($50,000 – $41,000).
If the dealer had allowed you $27,000 and assumed your unpaid mortgage of $23,000 on your old home, your sales price would still be $50,000 (the $27,000 trade-in allowed plus the $23,000 mortgage assumed).

Transfer to spouse.(p110)

If you transfer your home to your spouse or you transfer it to your former spouse incident to your divorce, you in most cases have no gain or loss. This is true even if you receive cash or other consideration for the home. As a result, the rules in this chapter do not apply.
More information.(p110)
If you need more information, see Pub. 523 and Property Settlements in Pub. 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.

Involuntary conversion.(p110)

You have a disposition when your home is destroyed or condemned and you receive other property or money in payment, such as insurance or a condemnation award. This is treated as a sale and you may be able to exclude all or part of any gain from the destruction or condemnation of your home, as explained later under Special Situations.

Determining Basis(p110)

You need to know your basis in your home to figure any gain or loss when you sell it. Your basis in your home is determined by how you got the home. Generally, your basis is its cost if you bought it or built it. If you got it in some other way (inheritance, gift, etc.), your basis is generally either its fair market value when you received it or the adjusted basis of the previous owner.
While you owned your home, you may have made adjustments (increases or decreases) to your home's basis. The result of these adjustments is your home's adjusted basis, which is used to figure gain or loss on the sale of your home. See Adjusted Basis, later.
You can find more information on basis and adjusted basis in chapter 13 of this publication and in Pub. 523.

Cost As Basis(p110)

The cost of property is the amount you paid for it in cash, debt obligations, other property, or services.


If you bought your home, your basis is its cost to you. This includes the purchase price and certain settlement or closing costs. In most cases, your purchase price includes your down payment and any debt, such as a first or second mortgage or notes you gave the seller in payment for the home. If you build, or contract to build, a new home, your purchase price can include costs of construction, as discussed in Pub. 523.

Settlement fees or closing costs.(p111)

When you bought your home, you may have paid settlement fees or closing costs in addition to the contract price of the property. You can include in your basis some of the settlement fees and closing costs you paid for buying the home, but not the fees and costs for getting a mortgage loan. A fee paid for buying the home is any fee you would have had to pay even if you paid cash for the home (that is, without the need for financing).
Chapter 13 lists some of the settlement fees and closing costs that you can include in the basis of property, including your home. It also lists some settlement costs that cannot be included in basis.
Also see Pub. 523 for additional items and a discussion of basis other than cost.

Adjusted Basis(p111)

Adjusted basis is your cost or other basis increased or decreased by certain amounts. To figure your adjusted basis, see Pub. 523.
If you are selling a home in which you acquired an interest from a decedent who died in 2010, see Pub. 4895, Tax Treatment of Property Acquired From a Decedent Dying in 2010, to determine your basis.

Increases to basis.(p111)

These include the following.
These add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses. You add the cost of additions and other improvements to the basis of your property.
For example, putting a recreation room or another bathroom in your unfinished basement, putting up a new fence, putting in new plumbing or wiring, putting on a new roof, or paving your unpaved driveway are improvements. An addition to your house, such as a new deck, a sun room, or a new garage, is also an improvement.
These maintain your home in good condition but don’t add to its value or prolong its life. You don’t add their cost to the basis of your property.
Examples of repairs include repainting your house inside or outside, fixing your gutters or floors, repairing leaks or plastering, and replacing broken window panes.

Decreases to basis.(p111)

These include the following.

Discharges of qualified principal residence indebtedness.(p111)

You may be able to exclude from gross income a discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness. This exclusion applies to discharges made after 2006 and before 2017. If you choose to exclude this income, you must reduce (but not below zero) the basis of the principal residence by the amount excluded from your gross income.
Where Refund
Recordkeeping. You should keep records to prove your home's adjusted basis. Ordinarily, you must keep records for 3 years after the due date for filing your return for the tax year in which you sold your home. But if you sold a home before May 7, 1997, and postponed tax on any gain, the basis of that home affects the basis of the new home you bought. Keep records proving the basis of both homes as long as they are needed for tax purposes.
The records you should keep include: