Owe too much in taxes...can I write off my poker table?

Hi everyone, I’m pretty new to posting but I’ve been reading this discussion forum for years, so I need help from some of you that are more experienced, please!
I bought a foreclosure last year for $85k and just sold it a few weeks ago for $112,500. I claimed the first-time home buyers tax credit of $8000. I intended to live in it for at least 3 years but life never works the way you plan it so I only owned it for about 18 months. I’m assuming I will have to pay back the $8k, since I think you have to have lived in the house for at least 3 years, along with capital gains. I have saved $10,000 of the proceeds from the house in anticipation of this, but I sure would like to keep that money and pay off my student loan! I have just paid off all my debt, except for that dang loan, and so I’m motivated to do whatever I can to keep that $10k sitting in my account.
I’ve researched charitable donations, and I have an large awkward poker table sitting in the garage that I never use. Can I donate it to charity and write it off? I believe an individual can write off up to $5600 in charitable donations. I will also be writing off my move to another town for a better job, and work done on my house. What else is used when writing off taxes? Sure would appreciate any advice at all!


Since you were in the property over 12 months this is considered Capital Gains and not Regular Earned Income! 

When you bought it I assume you paid closing cost’s so your tax basis is probable $85k plus $1700 estimated purchase closing cost’s, and if you paid points for your original loan then you can add that to your purchase basis!

Now when you sold the property for $112,500 you also paid closing cost’s and potentially realtor fee’s, $2800 in estimated closing cost’s and $6,750 in potential realtor fee’s, so the long and short of this is an actual net income of $16,250 dollars of which capital gains are 17% or $2,762.

I don’t know whether the first time home buyers credit becomes pro-rated for pay back or is the entire amount, I suggest consulting with an accountant in your area! You of course will have to deal with your state taxes also! You may be able to make payment arrangements to repay your first time home buyer tax credit and you still have an interest deduction among other’s! This may not end up being as bad as it seems but see an accountant right away!

You can donate the poker table however you have to show and support fair market value of the donation!


Thanks! Maybe the taxes won’t be so bad, it’s just the first time I’ve ever owed taxes instead of gotten a refund…that might be a good thing!

If it was your residence, you likely won’t have to claim the capital gain on the first $250,000 of gain ($500k if married).

Technically you had to have lived there for two years to exclude the gain, however there are (at least) two expections you may make use of:

  1. If you had to sell the house due a change in location of employment or

  2. “other unforseen circumstances.” “Other unforseen circumstances” includes unemployment or change in empoyment that resulted in your inability to continue to afford the place. It’s a pretty “gray” area, and I would be comfortable finding an exclusion under this section of the code. There are other types of “unforseen circumstances” that you may qualify for as well.

In short, I would make the IRS tell me no.

If you fall into these categories, you would qualify for a reduced exclusion. Given that your gain in pretty small, you would probably be able to exclude all of the gain on your transaction.

And, yes, if you donate your poker table you can take a Sch A deduction for the market value (resale value) of the table up to 50% of your income for the year. Lots of charities take your good condition items to re-sale and raise funds for their charitable purposes.

Yes, because you did not keep the property as your primary residence for three years, you will have to repay all $8000 of the tax credit you received.

How much of the profit from the sale of the property you may be able to shelter from taxes has been addressed.

By the way, your gain on the property is $19500 ($112500 - $85000 - $8000) before adjustment for your closing costs and selling expenses. The tax credit you received reduces your cost basis for gain calculation.