My husband inherited vacant land when his mother died in 1990. His parents bought this property in 1946 if that makes any difference. We are selling it and am wondering what we will end up with after taxes. It's being sold without realtors. Neither of us has a clue.

  • 3
    Do you know the value of the property when it was inherited in 1990? Commented May 12, 2019 at 18:05
  • I believe vacant land is treated the same as improved land. You can probably more easily find information about how to treat inherited homes, and it applies to your situation also.
    – prl
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 19:45
  • 2
    Tough comparison, @prl . A house inherited and lived in, gets a $500K gain exemption for a couple. A house rented will have had a valuation required to determine basis for depreciation. This is closer to an inherited stock for tax purposes. Commented May 12, 2019 at 19:54
  • @Joe, yes I thought about mentioning that the similarity only applies with a property that is/was not a primary residence, but i figured that went without saying. I guess not. :-)
    – prl
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 19:59
  • Just get the value of the land for 1990 from the tax assessor's office.
    – S Spring
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


As you say, you and your husband will owe capital gains taxes when/if you sell the land. From LotNetwork.com, article titled So You've Inherited Land .... What's Next?

Death & Taxes

..... the tax treatment of inherited land can be tricky and may vary from state to state.

Because your husband inherited the land 29 years ago, you do not have to worry about estate taxes or inheritance taxes connected with the inheritance. All that was settled 29 years ago, although when you sell, you will have to show that there are no liens (e.g., unpaid taxes) on the property.

The article next addresses income taxes connected with the inheritance, and again, the answer is no worries.

The answer to your question comes next:

... you will owe capital gains taxes if you sell the property later at a gain. Significantly, this tax would only be applicable to the difference between the fair market value of the land when the benefactor died and what you sell it for.

This means that you have to establish the fair market value of the land in 1990. If you have an assessment of the land for property tax purposes dating from 1990, that would be acceptable, but an assessment might considerably understate the true 1990 value of the land. If you do not have a 29 year old assessment in your records, you should be able to get it from the county, or whatever governmental unit taxed the property. If that value seems far too low, then, I'm sorry, you will have to consult an certified appraiser who may -- or may not -- be able to derive a valid appraisal as of 1990. In Virginia, where I live, that would be an appraiser certified by the State of Virginia.

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