Do I Have to Pay Taxes on All Forms of Income?

It may surprise you that the answer is no.

Tax Code Section 61 indicates that “gross income means all income from whatever source derived” unless otherwise excluded.  So what is excluded?

Gifts and Inheritances:  Typically, property you receive as an inheritance or gift is not included in your taxable income.  However, this can change if the gift itself changes.  For example, if your parents give you $100 in stock as a graduation gift, this is not taxable to you.  But, if you receive dividends off this stock or gains upon selling, this income is taxable.

There are some additional exceptions that may apply, such as how retirement assets may be taxed after death, but for the most part, you’re in the clear.

Life Insurance:  As part of an inheritance, life insurance proceeds paid after the insured’s death are not generally taxable.  However, as with gifts, the original tax characteristics associated with the proceeds remain.  This means that any interest income received due to life insurance proceeds, for example, may be taxable.

Child Support:  These payments remain tax neutral, meaning there’s no deduction for paying support and no need to count as taxable income.  The same is true for alimony as well, unless the agreement was in place prior to 2018.

Selling a Home:  If you sell a home that was your primary residence for at least two of the five years before the sale, you can exclude proceeds from the sale of your home up to $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married filers.

Limited Rental Income:  If you rent out your personal residence for less than 15 days per year, you cannot deduct any rental expenses.  However, you don’t have to report any of the income for federal tax purposes.