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I'm a bit worried about getting bad tax advice this year for a number of reasons. I just started a PhD program this fall, which meant a number of big changes for me:

  1. I had to sell my house and move to a place where I don't know anyone. The sale of my house resulted in a sizeable profit. And, although I only lived in the house for about 18 months, I know that the IRS allows some proration of the homeowners capital gains tax exemption for some special circumstances. Obviously, I'm hoping I qualify for some of these.
  2. As a result of starting grad school, I went from having a relatively large salary to a minimal salary, which I am assuming might complicate some of my taxes. To further complicate the matter, my spouse works full time and we file jointly. I'm almost certain that we need to adjust our withholdings, but I thought it would be best to wait for a tax year where our financial situation is more stable (basically, wait for 2019).
  3. I've kept the proceeds from the sale of the house in a savings account. I don't intend to buy a house in the near future, so I need to get good advice about what to do with the money until I'm ready to use it to buy another house.

Ideally I would be able to find someone who knows enough to deal with all three of these things competently. My concern is that a standard tax prep service would be poorly prepared to navigate the IRS rules about prorating the homeowner's capital gains tax exemption. I'm also worried that someone else might not know enough about some of the oddities of grad student tax returns.

In a case like mine, how would you go about finding an accountant to help with these things?

  • Do you have substantial gain after 18 months of owning despite closing costs/broker fees? – Hart CO Nov 29 '18 at 18:02
  • Is your income while in school through a fellowship or from sources unrelated to your schooling? – Hart CO Nov 29 '18 at 18:11
  • Who does your taxes now? – quid Nov 29 '18 at 20:37
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    @HartCO, I forgot to explain the unusual circumstances of the home sale. I found a residential parcel that wasn't legally buildable, jumped through some government hoops to make it buildable, the subcontracted building the house on my own. Meanwhile the real estate market rose significantly. So yes, there was a substantial gain. – objectivesea Nov 30 '18 at 2:14
  • @HartCO I have a Teaching Assistantship. I have also stayed-on as a consultant for my former job, but this only requires a few hours per week of time and doesn't amount to a significant amount extra income. – objectivesea Nov 30 '18 at 2:16

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