Obama's Real Estate Tax Not as Bad as People Think

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Elite Realty

There is a lot of confusion centered on the health care bill’s impact on real estate transactions and the talk is not exactly accurate. Let me first clarify one thing: yes there is a new tax on real estate. But what most people don’t tell you is that the tax is only on applied profits earned above and beyond the capital gains tax limits and this is not a blanket tax applied to all real estate sales.

Additional Taxation Only on Applicable Capital Gains

First, let me explain the capital gains tax limits in most states. Most states have a $250,000 threshold on capital gains for single persons and a $500,000 cap for married couples. What that means is that if you are a single person and after the sale of your home if there is a profit over and beyond $250,000 – that amount will be taxed an additional 3.8%. Let’s go over this with an example. Say you bought a home for $300,000 and then sold it for $375,000. The profit amounts to only $75,000 (well within the $250,000 limit for non-married property owners) so you will not be taxed on that profit.


Now, here is an example of a married couple that sold their lakefront home: Originally bought in 2002 for $100,000. They renovated the home and now it is a gorgeous and very desirable property. Assuming that other homes consistently gained value and sold for a lot more in recent years, the couple in our example sold their home for $650,000 (Wow! Show me an investment opportunity like THAT!). This couple received a total of $550,000 profit on the sale of their home and given the $500,000 married people exemption on capital gains, the taxable amount would be $50,000. How much does it add up to? The total amount of additional tax this couple will pay at 3.8% would be a mere $1,900 – a far cry from the thousands of dollars the rumors would have you believe.


Generous Income Requirements Prior to Tax Imposition

Another important aspect of the new real estate taxes is that the tax only applies to individuals with at least a $200,000 annual income and couples with a joint income of at least $250,000. That automatically eliminates about 97% of the American population right there.

So you see? It’s not all that bad. The only thing I can think of that is important to remember about the capital gains tax exemption is that it must be a primary residence of the person or people filing for the exemption. Here is a document generated by the National Association of Realtors with some more scenarios showing how the real estate tax would impact people.

* Remember I am not a CPA, always consult your tax adviser.

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