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What Are The Tax Implications of Selling a House Below Market Value in Texas?

As a homeowner in Texas looking to sell, you might consider selling your house below market value for various reasons – seeking a quick sale, selling for cash, or even assisting a family member. While this is a legal option, it’s crucial to understand the potential tax implications. This guide aims to inform you about the legal and tax consequences of selling your house below market value in Texas, ensuring you are well-prepared for any financial repercussions.

Key Concepts in Texas Real Estate Taxation

Understanding key concepts in Texas real estate transactions and taxation is crucial for developing an effective selling strategy, especially if you’re considering selling below market value.

Fair Market Value (FMV)

Fair Market Value (FMV) represents the estimated price of your property under current market value and conditions. It balances what a willing seller would accept and what a willing buyer would pay. Factors influencing FMV include the location, size, age, condition of the house, and recent sale prices of comparable properties in the area.

Market Value

Market value is influenced by current trends and conditions in the real estate market. It can fluctuate based on local and national housing market changes, buyer demand, and economic conditions.

Capital Gains Tax

When selling property in Texas, you need to be aware of the capital gains tax, which is paid on the profit made from the sale of a property. Texas does not have a state-level personal income tax or capital gains tax, so your focus should be on federal taxes. The capital gains tax is calculated based on the difference between the property’s purchase price and its sale price, considering the holding period and the seller’s income level.

Short-term Capital Gains Tax in Texas

Short-term capital gains apply to assets held for one year or less. For 2024, the federal tax rates range from 10% to 37%, depending on your income level.

Long-term Capital Gains Tax in Texas

Assets held for over a year are subject to long-term capital gains tax, with federal rates between 0% and 20%, depending on one’s income level in 2024.

Tax Implications for Sellers

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Now that you’ve learned about key concepts in the Texas real estate market, let’s explore the tax implications for sellers:

Capital Gains Tax Calculation

When you sell your home below market value, the IRS still calculates capital gains based on the home’s fair market value (FMV), not the sale price. This means you might have a capital gain even if you sold the house at a lower price than what you initially paid. For example, if the market value is significantly higher than the sale price, you may still owe taxes on the implied gain.

If the sale price is below FMV, the IRS may consider the difference as a gift. This could impact your capital gains tax, potentially reducing it, but might trigger gift tax liabilities instead. It’s essential to report any capital gains accurately to avoid penalties.

While Texas does not have a state-level capital gains tax, federal capital gains tax still applies. For 2024, the federal tax rates for long-term capital gains are:

  • 0% for taxable income up to $47,025 for single filers
  • 15% for income between $47,026 and $518,900
  • 20% for income over $518,900
  • Higher income earners might also be subject to an additional 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) if their income exceeds certain thresholds

Losses and Deductions

If you sell your property at a loss, personal residences do not qualify for capital loss deductions. However, certain expenses, such as selling costs and improvements, may reduce your taxable gain or increase your loss.

The IRS also does not allow deductions for losses on the sale of personal-use property, including your home. Only properties held for investment or business purposes may qualify for loss deductions.

Gift Tax Considerations

The IRS treats the difference between the FMV and the sale price as a gift if the property is sold below its market value. This “gift of equity” can trigger gift tax liabilities.

For 2024, the annual gift tax exclusion is $18,000 per recipient. If the difference between the FMV and the sale price exceeds this limit, you may need to file a gift tax return and it will count against your lifetime exclusion, which is $12.92 million.

Note that Texas follows federal guidelines for gift taxes. There are no additional state-level gift taxes, so adherence to IRS regulations is essential to ensure compliance.

Tax Implications for Buyers

When buying a house below fair market value (FMV) in Texas, it’s crucial to understand how this affects your tax basis and potential future capital gains when you decide to sell the property.

Basis for Future Sales

When you purchase a home below FMV, your tax basis is the purchase price, not the higher market value. This lower basis affects how capital gains are calculated when you eventually sell the property.

For example, if you buy a home for $200,000 that’s worth $250,000, your basis is $200,000. If you later sell the home for $300,000, your potential capital gain would be calculated from your $200,000 basis, not from the FMV at the time of purchase.

Implications for Future Capital Gains

Capital gains tax is due when you sell a property for more than your basis in it. Since your basis would be the purchase price rather than the FMV, buying below market value might result in a higher capital gains tax when you sell, especially if the property appreciates in value.

It’s important to note that Texas does not have a state capital gains tax, so only federal capital gains taxes would apply. Additionally, the IRS allows individuals to exclude up to $250,000 (or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of gain on the sale of a home if they’ve used it as their primary residence for at least two of the last five years before the sale.

Selling to Cash Home Buyers in Texas

Advantages of Selling to Cash Buyers

Selling your home to cash buyers in Texas offers several distinct advantages:

  1. Quick Sale Process and Reduced Holding Costs: Cash sales typically close much faster than conventional home sales; a home sale can take weeks or months to process through financing. A quicker sale process means you can reduce ongoing costs like property taxes and maintenance almost immediately.
  2. Avoiding Lengthy Traditional Sales Processes: With cash buyers, you bypass many of the steps involved in a traditional sale such as waiting for buyer mortgage approvals. This reduces the risk of deals falling through due to financing issues.
  3. As-Is Purchase Offers: Many cash buyers offer to purchase properties “as is,” which means you don’t have to worry about making any repairs or improvements before the sale and closing costs. This can be particularly beneficial if the property has issues that would be costly to address before selling.

Tax Considerations Specific to Cash Sales in Texas

  1. Documentation and Record-Keeping: These properly document the sale transaction, including the sale price and any agreements regarding the condition of the property or terms of sale. This documentation will be important for tax purposes and any future audits.
  2. Capital Gains Considerations: If you sell your home for more than what you paid for it, you may owe capital gains tax on the profit. However, if the property was your primary residence for at least two of the five years before the sale, you might qualify to exclude up to $250,000 (or $500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of the gain from your income.
  3. Ensuring Compliance with IRS and Texas Guidelines: Always consult with a tax professional to ensure that you are complying with all relevant tax laws and filing the required forms correctly, such as reporting any significant capital gains from the sale.

Special Scenarios in Texas

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Family Transactions

When selling a property to a family member in Texas, it’s essential to handle the transaction as you would with a non-family member to avoid potential tax consequences. If you sell a property below appraised value to a family member, this can be considered a gift. It might trigger a gift tax if the amount exceeds the annual IRS exclusion limit, which is $18,000 for 2024.

It’s crucial to maintain proper documentation and potentially consult a tax advisor to ensure compliance and understand all implications related to gift taxes.

Distressed Property Sales

Selling distressed properties involves certain tax considerations. Distressed sales typically occur under urgent or less-than-ideal circumstances, such as foreclosure or selling a property in poor condition that requires significant repairs.

In such cases, sellers might face tax implications, including potential tax relief opportunities if the sale meets specific criteria, like selling at a loss. Tax laws can be complex in these scenarios, so it’s advised to consult with a tax professional to explore potential tax relief options and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

Selling distressed properties also includes strategic pricing and marketing to attract buyers that would take on properties regardless of the significant work involved. 

Tax Reporting and Compliance

IRS Reporting Requirements

When selling a property below its fair market value (FMV), specific IRS rules must be followed to ensure compliance. If the selling price is significantly lower than the FMV, the difference may be considered a gift, requiring the filing of a gift tax return if it exceeds the annual exclusion limit. It’s essential to report such transactions accurately using forms like IRS Form 709 for gift taxes.

If any profit is realized, it should be reported using IRS Form 8949 and Schedule D for capital gains tax implications. These forms help detail the sales and other dispositions of capital assets, and it’s crucial to include them when filing your annual tax return if you meet the reporting thresholds.

Timeline for Reporting and Paying Taxes

Generally, the reporting of the sale and any related taxes should align with the annual tax filing deadlines. For most individuals, this deadline is April 15 of the year following the sale. If additional taxes are due (such as capital gains tax), they should be paid by this date to avoid penalties and interest.

Texas-Specific Regulations

In Texas, there are no state-specific capital gains taxes, but federal taxes still apply. Property taxes might also be affected by the sale price, as local tax assessors could adjust the property’s assessed value based on the sale information. It is important to check with local tax authorities to understand any implications a below-market sale might have on your property taxes.

Compliance with Federal and State Tax Laws

Ensuring compliance involves accurate reporting on the appropriate forms and understanding how the sale impacts your tax situation. For detailed guidance on these topics, the IRS provides resources and publications that can be very helpful, such as Publication 544 for sales and other dispositions of assets, and Publication 561 for determining the value of donated property.

Strategies for Minimizing Tax Impact

Professional Advice

Consulting with a tax professional, real estate agent or attorney is crucial when dealing with property sales in Texas. This is particularly true when selling below market value or in unique scenarios like family transactions, distressed property sales, and so on.

These professionals can provide tailored advice based on current tax laws and personal circumstances. They help ensure compliance while strategizing to minimize tax liabilities; whether it’s through timing the sale, structuring the deal to take advantage of tax exemptions, or other legal tactics.

Strategies for Minimizing Tax Liabilities Specific to Texas

  • 1031 Exchanges: Often used in Texas, this strategy allows the deferral of capital gains taxes, but only if the proceeds from the sale are reinvested in similar types of property within a specified time frame.
  • Homestead Exemption: Texas homeowners may reduce their property tax burden through the homestead exemption, which can also offer some protection from capital gains.
  • Timing the Sale: Selling a property after owning it for more than a year can qualify the gain as long-term, which is taxed at a lower rate than short-term gains.

Proper Documentation

Maintaining detailed records is essential for minimizing tax liabilities. This includes keeping track of the original purchase price, improvements made to the property, expenses related to the sale, and any calculations related to depreciation or capital gains. Having proper documentation supports deductions and can be crucial in case of an audit.

Make sure all legal and tax-related documents are correctly filed – this includes the IRS Form 709 for any gift tax implications and Schedule D for reporting capital gains. Accurate filing helps avoid penalties and ensures that all potential tax advantages are utilized effectively.


Homeowners in Texas must understand the potential tax implications of selling a house below market value. Key tax considerations include potential capital gains tax, gift tax implications if selling to a family member or friend, and the necessity of accurate reporting to the IRS and local tax authorities.

Proper planning and strategic advice from a tax professional or real estate attorney is essential to minimize tax liabilities and ensure compliance with all tax regulations.

For Texas homeowners looking to sell quickly without the hassle of a traditional sale process, consider a cash offer from a reputable company: it can be a strategic move. Selling your house for cash offers a fast, straightforward transaction, potentially minimizing both taxes and personal stress. Consider reaching out to A List Properties for a professional cash offer and to explore your options. For a hassle-free sale that aligns with your financial and personal needs, they’re who to call. 

Sell My House Fast Texas | We Buy Houses Texas

Zach Shelley

Zach Shelley is a seasoned real estate investor with a diverse network spanning across the nation. As the founder of his own real estate venture, Zach is committed to offering innovative solutions to homeowners facing various real estate challenges.. Through his dedication and strategic approach, Zach continues to make a significant impact in the real estate industry, providing homeowners with alternative pathways to navigate their property transactions.

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