Taxes on Selling Rental Property: What You Need to Know

By | April 25, 2023

Selling rental property can be a great way to cash out on your investment and make a profit. However, before you start counting your money, it’s important to understand the tax implications of selling rental property. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of taxes on selling rental property, including capital gains taxes, depreciation recapture, and other important considerations.

Capital Gains Taxes on Rental Property Sales

One of the primary tax considerations when selling rental property is capital gains taxes. Capital gains taxes are taxes that you owe on the profit you make when you sell an asset, such as a rental property. The amount of capital gains taxes you owe depends on several factors, including how long you’ve owned the property and your income level.

If you’ve owned the rental property for more than a year, you’ll be subject to long-term capital gains taxes, which are typically lower than short-term capital gains taxes. Long-term capital gains taxes are currently capped at 20%, while short-term capital gains taxes can be as high as your ordinary income tax rate.

To calculate your capital gains taxes, you’ll need to subtract your basis (i.e., the original purchase price of the property plus any improvements you’ve made) from the sale price of the property. The resulting amount is your capital gain, which is subject to taxes.

For example, let’s say you purchased a rental property for $200,000 and made $50,000 worth of improvements. Your basis in the property would be $250,000. If you sell the property for $350,000, your capital gain would be $100,000 ($350,000 – $250,000). Depending on your income level and how long you’ve owned the property, you could owe up to $20,000 in capital gains taxes on the sale.

Depreciation Recapture

Another important tax consideration when selling rental property is depreciation recapture. Depreciation is a tax deduction that allows you to deduct a portion of the property’s value each year to account for wear and tear. When you sell a rental property, you may be subject to depreciation recapture, which is a tax on the portion of the property’s value that you’ve depreciated over the years.

To calculate your depreciation recapture tax, you’ll need to determine the total amount of depreciation you’ve taken on the property and multiply it by the depreciation recapture rate, which is currently 25%. For example, if you’ve taken $30,000 in depreciation deductions over the years, you could owe up to $7,500 in depreciation recapture taxes on the sale.

It’s important to note that depreciation recapture taxes are due regardless of whether you’ve made a profit on the sale of the property. So even if you sell the property for less than your basis, you could still owe depreciation recapture taxes.

Other Tax Considerations

In addition to capital gains taxes and depreciation recapture taxes, there are several other tax considerations to keep in mind when selling rental property. These include:

State and local taxes: In addition to federal taxes, you may also owe state and local taxes on the sale of rental property. Be sure to research your state and local tax laws to determine if you owe any additional taxes on the sale.
Closing costs: When you sell a rental property, you’ll likely incur closing costs, such as real estate agent commissions and title insurance fees. These costs are typically deductible on your tax return and can help offset your capital gains taxes.
1031 exchange: If you plan to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of your rental property into another investment property, you may be able to defer your capital gains taxes through a 1031 exchange. A 1031 exchange allows you to sell your rental property and use the proceeds to purchase another like-kind property without paying capital gains taxes. However, there are strict rules and timelines that must be followed to qualify for a 1031 exchange, so be sure to consult with a tax professional before pursuing this option.

Passive activity loss: If you’ve been actively managing your rental property, you may be able to offset some of your capital gains taxes with passive activity losses. Passive activity losses are losses incurred from rental activities in which you do not materially participate. These losses can be deducted against passive income or carried forward to future years.

Estate planning: If you’re considering selling rental property as part of your estate planning strategy, there may be additional tax implications to consider. For example, if you pass away before selling the property, your heirs may be subject to estate taxes on the value of the property. It’s important to work with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that your property is transferred in a tax-efficient manner.

Maximizing Tax Savings on Rental Property Sales

While selling rental property can come with a hefty tax bill, there are several strategies you can use to minimize your tax liability and maximize your savings. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Plan ahead: Before selling your rental property, work with a tax professional to develop a tax strategy that minimizes your liability. This may include timing your sale to take advantage of lower tax rates, using a 1031 exchange to defer taxes, or maximizing your deductions.

Keep accurate records: To accurately calculate your basis and depreciation recapture taxes, it’s important to keep detailed records of all expenses related to the property, including improvements, repairs, and maintenance.

Consider gifting: If you’re looking to transfer ownership of your rental property, gifting the property to a family member or charitable organization can be a tax-efficient option. By gifting the property, you may be able to avoid capital gains taxes and reduce your estate tax liability.

Hire a tax professional: Selling rental property can be a complex process with significant tax implications. To ensure that you’re maximizing your tax savings and minimizing your liability, it’s important to work with a qualified tax professional who understands the ins and outs of rental property taxes.


Selling rental property can be a lucrative investment strategy, but it’s important to understand the tax implications of the sale. From capital gains taxes to depreciation recapture and other tax considerations, there are several factors that can impact your tax liability when selling rental property. By working with a tax professional, keeping accurate records, and considering tax-efficient strategies, you can minimize your tax liability and maximize your savings on the sale of rental property.

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