Q&A: Property transfers trigger tax problem

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Dear Liz: I’m considering giving property (a condo) to my child through a quitclaim deed while I am still living. If she continues to live in the condo for two years after gaining possession, doesn’t she get a $250,000 capital gains exemption when she sells the property?

Answer: Yes, if she owns and lives in the home for at least two of the previous five years, she can exclude up to $250,000 of home sale profits from her income. However, her taxable gain would be based on your tax basis in the property: basically what you paid for the home, plus any qualifying improvements. Only if she inherits the home would the tax basis be updated to reflect its fair market value on the date of your death. Although taxes should never be the sole consideration for property transfers, the favorable step-up in basis may be a powerful incentive to hold off. Consider discussing your options with a tax pro.

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