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In the News: Tax Breaks on Home Sales

Home-saleJust yesterday, The National Association of Realtors announced that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 6.7 percent to 112.3, the highest level since December 2006.

With many people considering placing their home on the market, a timely Wall Street Journal article examined the taxes and tax breaks available when selling a home. According to Melissa Labant, director of taxation at the AICPA, these rules can be complicated and people often misunderstand or don’t take full advantage of the benefits available.

Perhaps the most important benefit to sellers is the principal-residence tax break. Sellers of a principal residence are allowed a tax break—up to $500,000 for married couples and up to $250,000 for singles, if they have lived in the residence for two or more years. This benefit applies to profits on a sale, which excludes the cost of the home and any improvements. “For most homeowners in most markets, this benefit is all they need,” Labant says. While this break is helpful, there are many complicating issues that sellers can run into and consulting a CPA is often advisable.

And if you happen to be selling–or buying–a house with your significant other, keep in mind that emotions tend to run high when money is involved. And with a life event as important as buying or selling a home, the stakes are even higher.

A recent Marketplace.org article cited an AICPA survey which found that cohabitating couples quarrel over finances an average of three times a month. That's 36 times a year! More than half of adults, 55 percent, who are married or living with a partner said they do not set aside time on a regular basis to talk about financial issues. So if you’re planning on making a major financial decision that involves your significant other, make sure you talk it out together first.

AICPA social media and member engagement strategist Stacie Saunders recently spoke to Association Trends and explained how the rise of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have impacted the AICPA’s communication strategies.

In the interview, Saunders noted that the AICPA strategy is tailored around the members’ wants and needs and since social media has become an easy way for members to access information, AICPA has integrated it into their strategy as a communications channel. Saunders said the most important thing for associations to know about social media is who their members are, and what platforms they prefer. After that, you can break down a strategy, keeping in mind how it will affect your current marketing plans and how you will measure success. She concluded by highlighting how, by setting up a campaign hashtag before a conference, the organizer can generate buzz in advance and also gain feedback on the most popular sessions and takeaways, enhancing the experience for attendees. 

, AICPA Staff.

Home sale image via Shutterstock

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