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Thursday, October 4
  How Home Improvements Affect Your Taxes When You Sell - TurboTax
As a homeowner, you may be asking, "Can I ever get a tax benefit out of all the money I've spent fixing up my house?" Maybe yes. Maybe no.

You generally can't deduct the cost of installing central air conditioning, adding a sunroom or replacing the roof, for example, in the year you spend the money. But if you keep track of those expenses, they may help you reduce your taxes in the year when you finally sell your house.
Improvements Versus Repairs

Money you spend on your home breaks down into two categories, taxwise: The cost of improvements versus the cost of repairs.

The cost of capital improvements add to your tax basis, which is the amount you'll subtract from the sales price to determine the size of your profit. A capital improvement is something that adds value to your home, prolongs its life or adapts it to new uses. There's no laundry list of what qualifies, but you can be sure that you can add the cost of what you pay for an addition to the house, a swimming pool and a new central air-conditioning system. It's not restricted to big-buck items, though. A new water heater counts, as do an intercom or security system or new storm windows.

The cost of repairs, on the other hand, don't add to your basis. Fixing a gutter, painting a room, or replacing a window pane are repairs rather than improvements.

In the past, it was critical for homeowners to save receipts for anything that could qualify as an improvement. Every dime added to basis was a dime less that the IRS could tax when the house was sold.

But now that most home-sale profit is tax free, there's no guarantee that carefully tracking your basis will pay off.
Save When You Sell

Under current law, the first $250,000 of profit on the sale of a home is tax-free ($500,000 for married couples who file joint returns) if you have owned and lived in the home for two of the five years leading up to the sale. When this rule was put into the tax law, a lot of advisors thought it meant homeowners no longer had to track their basis. After all, how likely was it that someone would score a quarter of a million dollar profit (or a cool half a mil) on their home? But then came the housing boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s and many homeowners were reacquainted with the importance of keeping good records.

To determine the size of your profit when you sell, you take everything you paid for the house, the original purchase price, fees, and so on, and add the cost of all the improvements you have made over the years to get a grand total, which is known as the "adjusted basis." (If you sold a home prior to 1999 and took advantage of the old rule that let home seller put off the tax on their profit by "rolling" the profit into a new home, your adjusted basis is reduced by the amount of any rolled-over profit.) Compare the adjusted basis with the sales price you get for the house and if you've made a profit, that gain may be taxable (if it is more than $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly). Alas, capital losses on personal residences are not deductible.

You can see it makes sense to keep track of whatever you spend to fix up, expand, or repair your house, so you can reduce or avoid taxes when you sell.

* Make a special folder to save all your receipts and records for any improvements you make to your home.
* If you've lived in your house for many years, and if area housing prices have been gradually going up over all those years, you may be facing a fairly large gain that would be minimized by including the improvements in the cost basis of the house.
* If you operate a business from your home or rent a portion of your home to someone, you may be able to deduct part of your home improvements as business expenses through depreciation; also, the cost of repairs to that portion of your home may be currently deductible.

via turbotax

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