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Why wouldn't an excise tax on a house be deductible? I can imagine the answer, that it is really a stamp tax or cost of doing business, since it is a one-time thing and not a recurring expense.

Your assumption is correct. It is a one time expense based only on the sale of the property, not recurring and based on the property value itself, similar to a stamp, document, sales or transfer tax. It is, therefore, a cost of the sale but not an itemized deduction expense. To be deductible as an itemized deduction, it must be levied for general public welfare. In any case, it would not be deductible against federal income tax as the poster hoped. Actually, you get more benefit from it being deductible from the sale than as an itemized expense since it lowers the AGI assuming the sale is a taxable event. You can look up IRCS 164(a) and Regs for more details on which taxes are allowed as itemized expenses.
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