What is the Plus One Rule for Principal Residence?

What is the Plus One Rule For Principal Residence?
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Published By Jennifer Jewell

Question: What is the Plus One Rule for Principal Residence?

Answer: The “Plus One Rule” in Canada allows you to designate one additional property, in addition to your primary residence, as a principal residence for a year. It’s important to meet specific eligibility criteria and consult with a tax professional for accurate guidance.

What is the Plus One Rule for Principal Residence? What Homeowners Should Know About the Principal Residence Exemption

Homeownership in Canada comes with several benefits, and the Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) tops the list. This tax rule ensures that when you sell your home at a profit, you don’t face a hefty tax bill. Essentially, the PRE safeguards your investment gains, offering a bit of relief in a potentially stressful process. While the concept is straightforward, there’s a specific aspect that homeowners often overlook—the Plus One Rule.

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The "Plus One Rule" Unveiled

You’re probably asking, "What exactly is this Plus One Rule?" It’s a supplementary component to the Principal Residence Exemption. Imagine you’re in a situation where you sell your house and plan to move into a new one, but there’s a time gap. Maybe your new home isn’t ready, or perhaps you’re temporarily relocating for work. In such cases, the Plus One Rule steps in to add an extra year to the years you claim for the tax exemption, essentially giving you some breathing room. [ 1 ]

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Related Article: How Long Do You Have to Live in a Property to Avoid Capital Gains Tax Canada?

Reasons for Instituting the Plus One Rule

"Why does this rule exist?" you might wonder. Simply put, life happens. Suppose you sell your home in February, but your new house won’t be ready until November. In between, you may be renting or staying elsewhere. This rule came into play to make sure people aren’t penalized for these little life hiccups. The Plus One Rule was introduced to offer this level of flexibility, to make sure the tax system isn’t too rigid.

How the Plus One Rule Works: An Example

Let’s say you’ve lived in your home for six years. You decide to sell and move to a different city. Normally, the Principal Residence Exemption would cover those six years, meaning you wouldn’t pay tax on the value your home has gained during that time. However, the Plus One Rule allows you to claim a seven-year exemption. This can be particularly helpful in areas where home values have spiked considerably. The extra year can mean avoiding a substantial amount of tax.

The Plus One Rule and the Housing Market

A fluctuating housing market can sometimes cause unpredictable delays in property transactions. You might have to wait for permits, or perhaps the builder is behind schedule. Here, the Plus One Rule acts as a buffer. It ensures that you’re not financially penalized for situations out of your control. The rule is like an insurance policy against the unknowns of the property market.

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Concluding Thoughts: Why the Plus One Rule Matters

Understanding the ins and outs of the Plus One Rule can make a big difference when you’re navigating the complex world of real estate. While it may seem like a minor detail in the larger framework of property ownership and taxation, this rule can save you a lot in the long run. So the next time you’re contemplating selling your principal residence, keep the Plus One Rule in mind. It just might make your financial journey a bit smoother.

And there you have it. If you’re contemplating a move and wondering how to best navigate the financial landscape, the Plus One Rule could be a crucial piece of the puzzle. This rule, although often overlooked, can make a tangible difference in how much you take home after a sale. And in a high-stakes game like real estate, every little bit helps. Armed with this information, you’re better prepared to make smart choices that benefit your bottom line.


1. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/personal-income/line-12700-capital-gains/principal-residence-other-real-estate/sale-your-principal-residence.html

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