The Tax Side of Moving: What Bay Area Homeowners Should Know Before Selling

If you’ve ever thought about packing up and making a move, you know it’s not just about finding the perfect new place.

There’s a whole tax side to consider, especially when you’re bidding farewell to your current Bay Area home sweet home.

Whether you’re upsizing, downsizing, or just ready for a change of scenery, it’s important to have a handle on the financial ins and outs before you sign on the dotted line. From capital gains to deductions, we’ve got the lowdown on what you should know before you start packing those moving boxes.

Everyone wants to know…

What Bay Area Homeowners Should Know Before Selling

So, you’re thinking about trading in the Bay Area breeze for a new adventure? Whether it’s a job opportunity in another city, a desire for a different neighborhood, or simply a change of scenery, moving is an exciting endeavor.

But before you start envisioning your new life, it’s essential to understand the tax implications that come with selling your Bay Area home.

  1. Capital Gains Tax

One of the most crucial aspects to consider when selling your Bay Area home is the capital gains tax. If you’re selling your primary residence, you might be in luck.

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 allows individuals to exclude about $250,000 of capital gains from the sale of their primary residence, while married couples filing together can discount up to $500,000.

To qualify, you must have lived in the home for at least two of the past five (5) years before the sale. Keep in mind that this exclusion is based on gains, not on the sale price of the property.

If your gains exceed these limits, you might be subject to capital gains tax at the federal and state levels.

Take all your equity when you move

  1. Relocation Deductions

If your move is due to a job change and your new workplace is located more than 50 miles farther from your old home, you might be eligible for relocation deductions.

However, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, these deductions have become less straightforward. While moving expenses were once deductible for most taxpayers, the new law only allows members of the military to claim these deductions.

It’s essential to consult a tax professional to understand how this change might impact your specific situation.

  1. Timing is Everything

The timing of your home sale can have a significant impact on your tax liability. If you’re planning to buy a new home shortly after selling your Bay Area property, you might be able to defer your capital gains tax through a 1031 exchange.

This process involves reinvesting the proceeds from the sale into a like-kind property within a specific timeframe, typically 180 days. It’s a complex maneuver that requires careful planning, so be sure to work closely with a tax advisor to navigate the intricacies.

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  1. State-Specific Considerations

As a Bay Area resident, you’re already familiar with the region’s unique characteristics, and its tax implications are no different. California has its own state tax regulations that can influence your overall tax liability.

While California doesn’t have a separate capital gains tax rate, it’s important to be aware of the state’s income tax rates, which can impact your financial picture.

  1. Home Office Deductions

If you’ve been running a home office from your Bay Area residence, you might be eligible for some deductions. The home office deduction can help offset the costs of maintaining a workspace in your home, such as utilities, internet, and a portion of your mortgage or rent.

However, this deduction comes with specific requirements, such as the space being used exclusively for business purposes.

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  1. Consult a Tax Professional

The world of taxes is a complex one, and navigating it on your own can be overwhelming. Before you make any decisions about selling your Bay Area home, it’s highly recommended to consult with a tax professional or a certified financial planner.

They can provide personalized advice based on your unique financial situation and help you make informed choices that align with your goals.

As you embark on the exciting journey of moving from your Bay Area abode, don’t let the tax implications catch you off guard. Understanding the capital gains tax rules, considering relocation deductions, and being aware of state-specific factors are all crucial steps in making a smooth transition.

Whether you’re trading in your view of the Golden Gate Bridge for a skyline on the other side of the country or simply swapping neighborhoods, taking the time to get your tax ducks in a row can make all the difference.

So, as you start packing up those memories, be sure to pack some tax knowledge along with them. Your future self will thank you for it!

Time to talk to a REALTOR?

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About the Author
Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.