What is a Stepped-Up Basis?

In order to understand what a stepped-up basis is, first you need to know what a basis is. Basis in real estate is essentially the value of a home discounting any effects of appreciation or depreciation, and is used for tax purposes. It’s calculated as a property’s cost when it was purchased plus the value of any improvements made to the property. When determining the amount of taxable capital gains when selling the property, this is the amount subtracted from the sale price.

Where stepped-up basis comes in is in the case of inherited properties. When a property is inherited, the basis is recalculated based on market values, ignoring both the purchase price and any improvement values. It’s possible that this stepped-up basis causes your capital gains amount to be negative, in which case this can be deducted from your taxable income if it is not your primary residence. Only up to $3000 can be deducted in this way per year, but you can continue to deduct in later years until the loss is settled. The estate can choose to use the market value on either of two dates: the date of the previous owner’s death, or six months from that date, called the alternate valuation date.

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