Legislation included in the 1997 federal budget made significant changes that improve a homeowner's ability to profit from the sale of real estate.
The capital gains tax exclusions on the sale of a principal residence is just one of several benefits for homeowners. When you sell a home you have owned and use for two of the five years prior to the sale, married couples are allowed to keep up to $500,000 in tax-free profits and taxpayers filing as singles can keep up to $250,000 before paying capital gains tax.
Long-term capital gain is also taxed at lower rates as a result of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act passed in 2003. The maximum capital gains tax rates dropped from 20% to 15% and from 10% to 5%, effective for sales and exchanges taking place on or after May 6, 2003 and through December 31, 2007. In 2008 the 15% rate continues for higher income taxpayers, while the 5% rate for lower income taxpayers drops to 0%, but only for the 2008 tax year. On January 1, 2009, the 10% and 20% rates will be reinstated.
Consult your tax advisor for advice regarding your particular circumstance.
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