Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tax Returns and Myths Surrounding Them

Myth 3. I'm over age 55, so I can sell my house tax-free. Wrong again, graybeard! You're thinking old law.
It used to be that if you were older than 55, you could exclude as much as $125,000 in gains from taxes, but only once. Now the rules are even better.
Under current law, age no longer matters. If the property sold was your principal residence for at least two out of the last five years, then you can exclude from tax as much as $250,000 in gain (and $500,000 on a joint return).
Your age is irrelevant, and you can take the gain exclusion every two years if you qualify.

Myth 4: I'm Married So I Have To File Married File Jointly

For example, if one spouse has substantial medical or miscellaneous deductions, those deductions are subject to the 7.5% and 2% floors respectively. That is, only medical expenses over 7.5% of adjusted gross income and miscellaneous deductions over 2% of adjusted gross income are deductible. If I had $10,000 in income and my spouse had $90,000 in income, the first $7,500 in medical expenses and the first $2,000 in miscellaneous expenses aren't allowed.
But if I filed as "Married Filing Separately," the disallowance would only apply to the first $750 in medical expenses and the first $200 in miscellaneous itemized expenses. The potential availability of $8,550 ($7,500 plus $2,000, less the sum of $750 and $200) in additional deductions could offset the bracket and other limitations of filing separately.

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