Plymouth, MA asked in Tax Law for Massachusetts

Q: My father gave me and my sister his house before he died do we have to pay capital gains if we sell it

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Smilie Gregg Rogers
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  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • York, ME
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: Property transferred by gift usually require the recipient to use the Donor's income tax basis. That carryover basis results in the preservation of built in capital gains. Had your father devised the property to you and your sister at death, you likely would have received a basis reflecting the properties then fair market value.

Whether or not you now have to pay capital gains on the sale depends on 1) your carryover basis; 2) the amount of capital improvements made; 3) the amount you realize on the sale and 4) the property's ownership/use history since it was given to you. If the property has been owned and used as a principal residence, some or all of the gain might be avoided.

Your question is not a complex one but requires further analysis based on your specific facts.

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