Tax time is nearing and once more rumors are circulating on the Internet and by e-mail that the health care reform law enacted two years ago includes a 3.8 percent transfer tax on real estate starting in 2013. That rumor is not true and NAR has material available to explain how that 3.8 percent tax works.
It’s a tax on a very narrow band of investment income for high-wealth households (those who earn $250,000 in a joint return or $200,000 as an individual) that could come into play on the sale of a house if the sales gain is more than $500,000 for a married couple or $250,000 for an individual.
Even in the unlikely event the sales gain is more than that amount, the tax would only apply based on other considerations having to with the household’s income and its tax situation.
The bottom line is, the tax, which was imposed to help shore up Medicare, will only hit some portion of investment income.
By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Shortly after the federal government enacted sweeping healthcare reform earlier this year, there was considerable concern over a last-minute addition to the legislation: a 3.8 percent tax on investment income of upper-income households to help shore up Medicare. The tax takes effect in 2013.
Among the concerns expressed among consumers and business people, including real estate professionals, both then and today, is that the tax amounts to a transfer tax on real estate. Not true, NAR Director of Tax Policy Linda Goold says.
Here’s how the tax works. For individuals earning $200,000 a year or more and married couples earning $250,000 a year or more, certain investment income above these income levels might be subject to the 3.8 percent tax on a portion of that income. I say “might” because whether the tax applies or not depends on many factors having to do with the kind and amount of the investment income the household receives.
Investment income includes capital gains, dividends, interest payments, and, for those who own rental property, net rental income.