Is a Quitclaim Deed Subject to Tax?

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Quitclaims are sometimes used to transfer property interests from one family member to another, or between divorcing spouses. Parents might wonder if they should use quitclaims to pass property to children to avoid the probate process. It’s easy enough to do. The homeowner signs the document with a notary, takes it to the county recorder of deeds, and has it recorded. Simple. No wonder adding someone to a deed or relinquishing rights through a quitclaim is often (mistakenly) called a “quick claim” deed. But what does the Internal Revenue Service think?

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Real Estate Tax Changes Could Be Coming: Spotlight on Capital Gains and the Stepped-Up Cost Basis

Image of a well appointed bedroom in what is likely a fancy house. Captioned: Real Estate Tax Changes Could Be Coming: Spotlight on Capital Gains and the Stepped-Up Cost Basis

A new administration might bring real estate tax changes. No matter what happens in this area, it’s worthwhile to know what’s going on that might affect your plans to bequeath your real estate. So here we take a look at taxes on capital gains, and then at one form of tax relief that’s now a complete question mark: the stepped-up cost basis of real property for your heirs.

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How Not to Overpay Your Property Taxes

Image of people reviewing paperwork on a desk with computers on it. Captioned: Hot Not to Overpay Your Property Taxes.

Homeowners pay taxes on their real estate to fund local services. Renters, too, pay property taxes, as they’re rolled into monthly rent charges. The property taxes we all pay go to sustain libraries and schools, emergency services, environmental projects, sewer work and road maintenance.

How much is one property’s share? To determine this amount, an assessor multiplies the local tax rate by a property’s value. Many assessors’ offices use discounted values of properties when coming up with their tax assessments, not the full market price; still, property taxes often amount to thousands of dollars each year. With local governments determining them, rates vary from county to county, and big cities generally collect higher property taxes than suburban developments or country towns do.

Home shoppers need to check the property tax when perusing a listing, and include that tax in the cost of owning a particular home. Plus, they should expect a possibly higher tax after buying the home, as there could be a new assessment when the deed changes hands.

A homeowner’s mortgage account may hold money aside in escrow. Of course, the owner pays into the escrow account — but this way, the owner’s taxes will be continually kept up to date without the owner having to remember to submit a payment each time local taxes are due.

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The Tax Lien Cometh

Back Taxes Can Impact Your Real Estate Title. Here’s How to Deal With Them.

Historical image of a window on a downtown building with the words "Pay Your TAX Now Here!" painted on it. Captioned: Back Taxes Can Impact Your Real Estate Title

What happens when a taxpayer doesn’t pay tax? If the Internal Revenue Service is slighted, it follows its age-old tradition and imposes a tax lien on the person’s property. Boats, financial accounts, the house — an IRS lien attaches to everything. And federal tax liens are resilient; they can even stay on the title through a homeowner’s bankruptcy, if they were imposed before the bankruptcy was filed.

With the lien, the government isn’t actually taking the property. But if the homeowner wants to sell the property, the government will take its cut from the sale proceeds.

Concerned you might have a lien? You can check with the recorder of deeds in the county where your home is, or review your debt records on the IRS website. If you find yourself dealing with back taxes, find a way to make good on the tax bill, or get the relief you need.

Here, we delve into the most frequently asked questions about the impact of a lien on a taxpayer’s home title, and steps the homeowner can take to keep that title clean.

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