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Choose Your Deduction

by John Riggins

 

Choose Your Deduction

One third of all U.S. households, 75% of households with more than $75,000 income and most homeowners itemize their deduction on their federal income tax returns. It makes sense because the interest paid on their mortgage and their property taxes probably exceeds the allowable standard deduction.

However, with interest rates as low as they have been in the last two years and the price of homes having come down considerably, it is possible that the standard deduction may be the better choice.

Each year, the taxpayer can compare the total of the itemized deductions to the standard deduction to select which method will result in the most benefits. The 2011 standard deduction is $11,600 for married couple filing jointly and $5,800 for single filers.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 allows homeowners to take the standard deduction and the lesser of their actual property taxes of $1,000 if filing their return married jointly. For more information, see Schedule L found on www.IRS.gov and consult your tax advisor.

Sale by Surviving Spouse

by John Riggins

 

Sale by Surviving Spouse

The IRS has given special consideration regarding the sale of their jointly-owned principal residence after the death of a spouse. If the surviving spouse does not remarry prior to the sale of the home, they may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people.

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  • The sale needs to take place after 2008 and no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse
  • Surviving spouse must not have remarried
  • Both spouses must have used the home as their principal residences for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Both spouses must have owned the home for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death

If you have been widowed in the last two years and have gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact me to find out what your home is worth in today's market. See IRS Publication 523 - surviving spouse.

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Contact Information

Photo of John Riggins REALTOR RB11175 Real Estate
John Riggins REALTOR RB11175
John Riggins Real Estate
1003 Bishop Street, suite 2700
Honolulu HI 96813
808.523.7653
808.341.0737
Fax: 888.369.3210