Will fees I pay for pre-sale home window washing reduce my capital gains tax obligation?

Window cleaning may help sell your home, but it won't help lower your tax obligations.

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Question

I'm getting ready to sell my home, and the real estate agent strongly recommends that I have the windows cleaned. I don't think they're all that dirty, but she insists that it will make a difference in how buyers perceive the place. The estimates are coming in at several hundred dollars, because we have a two-story house that's somewhat hard to access from outdoors. If I shell out for this among my selling expenses -- which are adding up to astonishing amounts -- can I at least get some tax benefit out of it?

Answer

Window cleaning is considered fairly standard practice when selling a home -- and you may be surprised at the difference it makes!

However, the expense is not tax-deductible, nor can it be added to your home’s cost for tax purposes (its “adjusted basis,” in tax parlance). In short, the cost of washing your home’s windows has no tax benefit whatsoever.

In the past, you could deduct home fix up expenses such as window washing if they were incurred to make your home more saleable. However, the law was changed way back in 1997 to eliminate this deduction.

Today, the only home sale expenses you can deduct are those that don’t physically affect the property such as real estate broker commissions, and various other fees involved in selling a home such as escrow fees, settlement costs, attorney fees, and so forth.

In any case, before you worry about whether you'll owe capital gains taxes on your home, check into whether your gain is covered by the standard exclusion.

by: , J.D.

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