New York State Capital Gains Tax

New York State Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains tax is a hot topic for anyone involved in investment activities, especially when it comes to real estate. If you’re living in New York or considering buying or selling property there, you should be well-versed in the nuances of the New York State capital gains tax. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just dipping your toes into the real estate market, understanding the tax implications can save you from unexpected surprises and possibly reduce your tax liability.

In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of New York State capital gains tax, with a focus on real estate transactions. So, let’s break down what you need to know about capital gains tax in the Empire State.

What Is Capital Gains Tax?

Before we zoom in on New York State specifics, let’s clarify what we mean by capital gains tax. Capital gains tax is a levy on the profit that an individual makes from selling an asset. The asset could be anything from stocks to bonds to real estate. The tax rate you’ll pay depends on various factors, including how long you’ve held the asset and your income level.

In the context of real estate, capital gains tax is applied to the profits you make from selling your property. It’s the difference between what you paid for the property (the purchase price plus any improvements) and what you sell it for, minus any applicable deductions or exemptions.

New York State Capital Gains Tax: The Basics

In New York State, capital gains are taxed as regular income, which means they’re subject to state income tax rates. These rates range from 4% to 8.82%, depending on your income level.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Capital Gains

Capital gains can be classified as either short-term or long-term, and this classification has a significant impact on your tax rate. If you owned the asset for one year or less before selling, your profit is considered a short-term capital gain, which is taxed at the same rate as your ordinary income.

If you owned the asset for more than one year, the profit is considered a long-term capital gain. While New York State taxes long-term gains at the same rates as regular income, federal tax rates for long-term gains are typically lower than those for ordinary income.

New York State Capital Gains Tax The Basics
New York State Capital Gains Tax The Basics

New York State Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate

When it comes to real estate, New York follows the same basic rules for capital gains as the federal government, with a few state-specific quirks to be aware of.

Exclusions and Exemptions

One of the most significant exemptions at the federal level is the exclusion of up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) on capital gains from the sale of a primary residence, provided you’ve lived in the home for at least two of the last five years before the sale. New York State recognizes this exemption as well, which can significantly reduce your taxable profit on the sale of your home.

Investment Properties

For investment properties, such as rental real estate, there are no such exclusions. However, you can potentially defer paying capital gains tax if you conduct a 1031 exchange, which involves reinvesting the proceeds from your real estate sale into another property. This strategy allows you to postpone paying capital gains tax until you sell the new property.

Depreciation Recapture

It’s also important to consider depreciation recapture when selling an investment property. When you own rental real estate, you can deduct the cost of depreciation from your taxable income each year. However, when you sell the property, you may have to pay a depreciation recapture tax at a 25% rate on the total amount of depreciation you’ve claimed.

Calculating Your Capital Gains Tax in New York
Calculating Your Capital Gains Tax in New York

Calculating Your Capital Gains Tax in New York

To calculate your capital gains tax liability, you’ll need to determine your net capital gain, which is your gross profit minus any allowable deductions, such as selling expenses and improvements to the property.

Selling Expenses

Selling expenses include costs like real estate agent commissions, legal fees, and any other expenses directly related to the sale of the property. These can be deducted from your gross profit to lower your taxable gain.

Home Improvements

If you’ve made any improvements to the property, those costs can also be deducted from your gross profit. Keep in mind that improvements must add value to the home, prolong its life, or adapt it to new uses to be deductible.

Example Calculation

Let’s say you’re selling a property in New York that you’ve owned for several years. You bought it for $300,000, spent $50,000 on qualifying improvements, and you’re selling it for $500,000. Your gross profit is $200,000 ($500,000 sale price – $300,000 purchase price). After deducting your improvements, your net capital gain is $150,000 ($200,000 gross profit – $50,000 improvements). This is the amount that would be subject to New York State capital gains tax.

Tips for Minimizing Your Capital Gains Tax
Tips for Minimizing Your Capital Gains Tax

Tips for Minimizing Your Capital Gains Tax

While it may seem like the tax man always gets a hefty slice of your profits, there are strategies you can use to minimize your capital gains tax liability.

Timing Your Sale

If you’re close to the one-year mark of owning a property, it might be worth waiting a little longer to benefit from the lower long-term capital gains tax rates.

Tax-Loss Harvesting

This strategy involves selling underperforming investments at a loss to offset the gains from other sales. It can be a complex process, so it’s best to consult with a tax professional before taking this route.

Charitable Contributions

Donating appreciated property to charity can not only provide a tax deduction but also help you avoid paying capital gains tax on the appreciation.

Keeping Records

Meticulous record-keeping is essential for proving your costs and deductions if you’re ever audited. Make sure to keep receipts and records of all improvements and expenses related to your real estate transactions.


The Supreme Court has upheld a tax on foreign income, rejecting a challenge backed by business and anti-regulatory interests. By a 7-2 vote, the court upheld a provision from a 2017 tax law targeting profits held abroad by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies. The decision, which has implications for future tax challenges, specifically declined to address the broader issue of wealth taxes. Justice Kavanaugh emphasized the narrow scope of the ruling, noting it only applies to the specific provision of the 2017 law. The ruling raised concerns about potential future legal challenges to taxes and left the door open for debates over taxes on unrealized income.



Knowing the New York State capital gains tax real estate rules is essential for property owners and investors. Understanding how gains are calculated, available exemptions, and deduction strategies can help you make better investment decisions. Consult a tax professional for personalized advice due to the complexity and changing nature of tax laws. With the right information and planning, you can manage your tax liability effectively. For further inquiries or legal assistance, feel free to contact us.

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