Determining principal residence for home-sale tax exemption

Owner of multiple homes runs into trouble with IRS

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DEAR BOB: Over the last five years I have lived in three primary homes. My summer home at Cape Cod, Mass., has appreciated about 300 percent in market value. I have lived there more than 24 of the last 60 months (summers plus months between sale and purchase of my other homes). Because of knee and hip problems, my doctor recommends selling it due to the many steps. But my accountant says the IRS won't approve the $250,000 principal residence sale tax exemption because I never filed my income taxes from that address. What do you advise? – Walt S. DEAR WALT: Your tax issue is whether the Cape Cod home was your principal residence during the 24 months you lived in it within the last 60 months before its sale. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. The occupancy need not be continuous, nor must the home be your principal residence at the time of its sale (it could be vacant, or even a rental). The latest IRS regulations state: "In addition to the taxpayer's use of the propert...