Use Losses to Offset Gains on Other Properties

Dear Tax Talk, I have deferred passive losses on multiple rental properties that have accumulated over the last eight years to the total of around $180,000. I recently sold two of these rental properties with a net capital gain of around $200,000. I have been getting conflicting answers as to whether I can offset these two sells with the cumulative passive losses of the other properties. I know that I can offset the individual losses on the two properties sold, but would like to cash in on the other losses at the same time.

Any help? Thank you. -- Jerry

Dear Jerry, Stop getting conflicting answers, and get a good CPA before you overpay your taxes. There is no gray area; your passive losses from any property or activity can go to offset income or gain from any other property or passive activity. This is true whether or not you dispose of the other properties and especially true when you do dispose of other properties.

When your adjusted gross income, or AGI (with certain modifications), exceeds $150,000, the tax law limits your losses from passive activities such as rental real estate. The losses instead are suspended and carried forward to future years, when your modified AGI allows you to claim them or if you have income, including gains, from sales of assets used in a passive activity.

In your case, your $200,000 in gain can be offset by all of your carryforward of $180,000, and you would end up with a net capital gain of $20,000. You should also be aware that capital losses from stock trading can offset the $200,000 in gain. If you have carryforward capital losses or losing stocks, you may want to get rid of them to increase your deductions.

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