Q&A: IRS and selling a home

Dear Liz: How does the IRS know you sold your house? If you sell and buy another home, must you report it? Most folks I know sell, then buy a more expensive house. Seems like lots of moving parts for the parties, including the IRS, to have to track.

Answer: Not really. The title company or attorney handling the closing on a property sale typically generates a Form 1099 with the sales price of the home. The seller gets a copy and so does the IRS. Sellers who “forget” to account for the proceeds on their tax returns will soon get a reminder from the IRS, which typically just tacks the sale amount onto the sellers’ income and demands its cut, along with penalties and interest.