Deducting losses or capitalizing costs
In 2007, because of a depressed real estate market, we anticipate
a loss of up to $80,000 on the sale of lake property purchased in 2005 for renovation
and resale (no rental or personal use). We have costs of improvements, property
taxes, interest on construction loan, utilities, yard maintenance, insurance,
legal advice and the usual selling costs.
Presumably, we have
the option of capitalizing some of these costs and adding them to the cost basis
or taking a deduction on Schedule A of Form 1040 in the year cost was incurred.
Presumably, cost of improvements and certain selling costs would be capitalized,
but do we have the option of deducting or capitalizing the others? (For example,
interest on loan could be capitalized under IRC 263A or used as a deduction on
Assuming we have the option of either approach
for some of these costs, the question is whether we will have enough capital gain
in succeeding years to carry over the loss from year to year. Again, assuming
annual capital gain of roughly $10,000, would it be better to take deductions
for costs incurred in 2006 and again for costs incurred in 2007, the year of anticipated
It seems like you've done some homework
before coming to me. The costs of carrying a property under construction usually
must be capitalized to the property, unless it is your home. Accordingly, the
interest, carrying costs (utilities, maintenance, etc.) and improvements will
become part of the cost of the property during the construction period. The taxes
can be deducted on Schedule A or capitalized as well.
never put the property to business use such as rental, the loss will be considered
a capital loss and will only be deducted against capital gains, as you point out.
The amount of your loss will be increased as a result of the capitalized costs,
most of which you don't have a choice on capitalizing. Whether you'll have sufficient
gains in the future or whether that'll be most beneficial depends on your circumstances.
If all you're offsetting is long-term capital gains, your tax savings will only
be 15 percent.
If instead of immediately selling the property
you offer it for rent, you can convert your capital loss to ordinary loss. In
addition, you can deduct your ordinary and necessary expenses for managing, conserving
or maintaining rental property from the time you make it available for rent, even
though you do not have rental income. In order to qualify for ordinary loss treatment,
you will need to have offered for rent or rented the unit for more than one year.
This converts the property to Section 1231 property and the loss on its sale becomes
ordinary. See Publication 544 for more information on Section 1231 property.
ask a question on Tax Talk, go to the "Ask
the Experts" page, and select "taxes" as the topic.