Capital gains tax is a tax on the profit that is made when a property is sold for more than it was purchased for. When it comes to real estate, capital gains tax can be a significant consideration for individuals who are looking to sell a property in Washington state. In this blog post, we will explore the capital gains tax laws in Washington state, as well as ways to minimize or avoid paying capital gains tax on a real estate sale.
In Washington state, capital gains tax on real estate is calculated by subtracting the cost basis of the property (usually the purchase price plus any improvements made to the property) from the sale price. The result is then multiplied by the individual's marginal tax rate, which can be found on the federal income tax tables. This means that if you make a profit when you sell a property, that profit will be subject to capital gains tax.
However, it's important to note that there are certain exceptions and exclusions to the capital gains tax on real estate in Washington state. For example, if the property being sold is considered a primary residence, the first $250,000 of gain for single individuals and the first $500,000 of gain for married individuals is excluded from capital gains tax. This means that if the gain on the sale of a primary residence is less than $250,000 for single individuals or $500,000 for married individuals, no capital gains tax will be due. Additionally, if the seller is over 55, they may qualify for the Senior Citizens Exemption, which allows individuals to exclude the first $125,000 of gain from the sale of their primary residence.
Another way to minimize capital gains tax on real estate in Washington state is to invest the proceeds from the sale of a property in another property through a 1031 exchange. A 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, allows for the deferral of capital gains tax on the sale of a property as long as the proceeds are invested in another "like-kind" property. This means that if you sell a property, you can use the proceeds to purchase another property of equal or greater value, and defer paying capital gains tax on the sale until the new property is sold.
It's also worth noting that owning the property for a long time can be beneficial in terms of capital gains tax, since it will lower the capital gain because of the exclusion of the first $250k or $500k of gain, as mentioned above. Additionally, you can lower your capital gain by deducting depreciation and expenses that is related to the rental property over the time you owned it. Consultation with a tax professional can help you to understand how to best take advantage of these deductions.