Three ways to reduce capital gains tax

IRS gives sellers a break when enduring 'unforeseen circumstances'
Published on Sep 2, 2008

DEAR BENNY: I was told by a prominent accountant that there is a loophole in the law that states that you can be exempt from paying capital gains (if you are in a home less than the two-year period) if there are "unforeseen circumstances" involved. Are you aware of this? Can you doublecheck to make sure? This accountant is well trusted by a lot of businesspeople! At the time I was going through an "unforeseen" divorce. --Patricia DEAR PATRICIA: In general, in order to take advantage of the up-to-$500,000 exclusion of gain ($250,000 if you file a separate tax return), you have to own and live in the house for two out of the five years before it is sold. However, the law does allow a partial exclusion under certain circumstances. There are three "safe harbors" (meaning that if you meet these tests the IRS will not challenge you): (1) change in employment; (2) health; and (3) unforeseen circumstances. In this third category, if you could not have...