1. Live in the house for at least two years. The two years don’t need to be consecutive, but house-flippers should beware. If you sell a house that you didn’t live in for at least two years, the gains can be taxable. Selling in less than a year is especially expensive because you could be subject to the short-term capital gains tax, which is higher than long-term capital gains tax, he says.
2. See whether you qualify for an exception. If you have a taxable gain on the sale of your home, you might still be able to exclude some of it if you sold the house because of work, health or “an unforeseeable event,” according to the IRS. Check IRS Publication 523 for details.
3. Keep the receipts for your home improvements. “The cost basis of your home not only includes what you paid to purchase it, but all of the improvements you’ve made over the years. When your cost basis is higher, your exposure to the capital gains tax is lower. Remodels, expansions, new windows, landscaping, fences, new driveways, air conditioning installs — they’re all examples of things that can cut your capital gains tax.