Should You Tithe on Real Estate Sales?

Do you tithe on a real estate sale? There’s not a simple “yes” or “no” answer for this because it depends on the situation.

Here’s how I would tithe on property sales:

Home Sale: If you sell your home of residence, you can roll the proceeds over into another new home purchase without tithing. The IRS isn’t taxing it as income, so you don’t have to tithe on this type of property sale. The property is yours. The proceeds are yours. But with that said, if the Holy Spirit is convicting you tithe on it or give from it, then you should give—and give sacrificially as God leads you.

Investment Property: If you’re flipping real estate or selling real estate property as a side hustle, then the gains you earn count as income. If you were a full-time house flipper, you’d have to pay taxes on the proceeds. I always say that if the government is taxing it, then you should tithe on it, too. We should be more willing to give to God than to the IRS! But how do you calculate your tithe for this situation? First take your initial investment plus repairs which equals your cost basis. Then subtract your net sales price, and the resulting number is your profit. It’s biblical to tithe at least ten percent of this amount.

Home Sale as Part of Inheritance: But what if you’re receiving the benefits of a home sale as part of an inheritance? It’s my position that you should tithe on any inheritance you receive. So tithe on any home sale proceeds if they’re part of your inheritance. It’s a gift, and I encourage you to put the Lord first by giving him at least 10% of it. To take a deeper dive into this topic, see my blog Should You Tithe on Inheritance?

Rental Income: Owning rental property provides a hedge against inflation and allows for true diversification of your assets. Especially as you build a solid income plan for retirement, you should have rental income along with social security, pensions, and investment income. But I’ve experienced firsthand that the numbers can get sticky with all the available deductions involved in maintaining rental property. This is one situation where I encourage you to tithe on your net earnings.

How do you know what your net income is? Take the amount of the rent and deduct all the costs like taxes, repairs, insurance, and vacancies—to name a few. That’s your net income. Then calculate ten percent of this amount as your tithe. Whatever you do, don’t tithe off the gross rental income—and don’t use the rental income number from your taxes to figure out your tithe here. There’s usually deprecation factored in, so your tax records won’t provide an accurate number to use for giving purposes. So tithe on your net income from any rental property you have.

Early Church Example

There’s a dramatic story in the Bible that explains why sincere generosity is so important in giving God a portion of your property sales. It takes place 2,000 years ago in the early church. Pride and jealousy take root when two first century church members see Barnabas and others sacrificially selling land and giving the proceeds to the apostles:

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. (Acts 5:1-5)

Ananias’ sin wasn’t that he sold the property and withheld some for himself. Peter tells him the property was yours, the proceeds were yours. But his sin was that he deceived the apostles into thinking he had given the entire sale when he hadn’t. The apostles also approach Sapphira and ask her about the land, and she lies and is instantly struck dead as well.

Some people might read this story and think it’s a bit harsh: Ananias and Sapphira lie, and God kills them. But the reality is that they were never under any compulsion to sell the land. No one told them to do it. There’s no evidence that God commanded them to sell it. There was never a command in Scripture for all believers to sell everything they owned.

The beauty of the Christian faith is that this isn’t Communism or Socialism. Believers don’t give out of compulsion or through intimidation, but only through conviction of the Holy Spirit. And that’s what made their sin so abhorrent in the eyes of God. They were misrepresenting who he was. They were intentionally deceiving the believers in order to receive accolades and attention and admiration. Their sins of greed and deceit would have infected the church, so God put a stop to it. John McArthur compares this story to Achan in the book of Joshua whose greed and deception led to his own death. God takes sin seriously—especially if we allow pride and greed to control us.

What I don’t want is for this story to make you nervous or afraid to give if the Lord is leading you to do so. True, sincere generosity shows that you treasure Christ. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you tithe on profits from a real estate sale, then give freely as the Lord leads. Just make sure you’re doing so with pure motives to honor and glorify God, not yourself.

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