What are Capital Gains and How do they Work?

When people buy investment real estate, they look to see how much the property will provide cash flow (money left over after paying expenses) and how much the property will appreciate (grow in value). The goal being to find a property that can generate the greatest yield for the money invested, and will turn the greatest profit at the time they choose to sell.

When an owner decides to sell, and assuming they make a profit on the sale, they are taxed on the gain from the sale- called capital gains tax. While there are a number of different tax details that an accountant can discuss further, capital gains are taxed on the difference between the sale price and the purchase price assuming that value is positive. If an owner loses money on the sale, as in they sell it for less than they bought it, it is called a capital loss, as they lost money on that sale.

This is particularly important for landlords who have owned their property for a number of years, and especially in cases where there has been strong appreciation in the property. Currently, capital gains is not taxable on a personal residence- a place that you own and occupy.

Capital gains are calculated as the difference between the sale price and the purchase price. If a person bought a home for $300,000 and sold it years later for $500,000, they are taxable on the gain of $200,000. However, capital gains only applies to half of that gain- in this case $100,000. They are taxed on that amount at their tax rate. People who make more money are taxed at a higher rate than those who make less.

A common question that we get at Amhurst is, “am I taxed on the amount I make after I pay off my mortgage or only on how much I made after the sale?”. The answer is it does not matter how the property was financed initially, the tax is payable on the full amount of gain.

Looking for a property manager who can advise you on what rental properties to buy or sell? Contact Amhurst today!