Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

What Are The Tax Incentives if I Rent My House?

What Are The Tax Incentives if I Rent My House?

If you own a rental property, you should know your federal tax obligations. All rental income needs to be reported on your tax return, and the associated expenses can generally be deducted from rental income.

If you are a cash basis taxpayer, report your rental income on your return for the year you received it, regardless of when it was received. As a cash taxpayer, you typically deduct rental charges in the year you pay them. If you use an accrual accounting method, you typically report income when you earn it, not when you receive it, and you deduct your expenses when you incur them. Most people use the cash method of accounting.

Here are some tips on tax returns, record-keeping requirements, and information on rental property deductions to help you avoid mistakes.


What do we mean by rental income?

In general, you should include any amount you receive as rent in your gross income. Rental income is any payment received for the use of the property. You must report rental income for all of your properties.

In addition to the amounts you receive as regular rental payments, other amounts may be rental income and must be reported on your tax return.

Advance rent corresponds to any amount received before the period covered. Include advance rent in your rental income for the year you receive it, regardless of the period covered or the accounting method used. For instance, you sign a 10-year lease to rent out your property. In the first year, you receive $5,000 for the year's rent and $ 5,000 for the rent for the last year. You must include $10,000 in your income for the first year.

Security deposits used as a final payment of rent are considered as advance rent. Include it in your income when you receive it. Do not include a deposit when you receive it if you intend to return it to your tenant at the end of the lease. But if you keep some or all of the security deposit for a year because your tenant violates the terms of the lease, include the amount you keep in rent for that year.

Payment for canceling a lease is made if your tenant pays you for canceling a lease. The amount you receive is rent. Include the payment in your income for the year you receive it, regardless of the accounting method.

Expenses paid by the tenant arise if the tenant pays any of your expenses, you must enter them into your rental income. You can deduct the expenses if they are deductible rental costs. For example, your tenant pays your water and sewer bill for your rental property and deducts it from your regular rent payment. Under the terms of the lease, your tenant does not have to pay this bill. Includes the utility bill paid by the tenant and any amount received as rent in rental income.

Goods or services received, rather than money, as rent, should be included as the fair market value of the goods or services in rental income. For instance, your tenant is a painter and offers to paint your rental property instead of paying rent for two months. If you accept the offer, include the amount the tenant would have paid for two months' rent in the rent.

Leasing with an option to buy occurs if the lease gives the tenant the right to purchase the rental property. The payments you receive under the contract are generally rental income.

If you have a partial interest in a rental property, you must report your share of the property's rental income.


What deductions can I make as an owner of rental property?

If you receive rental income from renting a home, you can deduct certain rental expenses from your tax return. These expenses can include mortgage interest, property taxes, operating expenses, depreciation, and repairs.

You will be able to deduct normal and necessary expenses for the management, conservation, and maintenance of your rented property. Ordinary expenses are the most common and are generally accepted in business. The necessary expenses are deemed appropriate, such as taxes, advertising, interest, maintenance, utilities, and insurance.

You can deduct the costs of certain materials, supplies, repairs, and maintenance of your leased property to keep it in good condition.

It is possible to deduct the costs paid by the tenant if they are deductible rental costs. When you include your property's fair market value or services in your rental income, you can deduct the same amount as your rent.

The cost of improvements cannot be deducted. A rental property will only benefit if the sums paid relate to a renovation or an adaptation to a new or different use. The cost of the improvements is recovered through depreciation.

You can recover some or all of the improvements by using Form 4562 to report depreciation for the year your rental property was first put into service, and for each year, you add furnishings or make an improvement. Only a portion of these expenses is deductible in the year in which they are incurred.


How do I report rental income and expenses?

If you are renting a property, such as buildings, rooms, or apartments, generally report rental income and expenses on Form 1040 or 1040-SR, Schedule E, Part I. List your total income, expenses, and depreciation for each rental property on the appropriate line on Schedule E. See the instructions on Form 4562 to calculate the amount of depreciation you enter on line 18.

Suppose you have more than three properties for rent; complete and attach as many schedule E as you need to list the properties—complete lines 1 and 2 for each property, including the mailing address for each property. However, complete the "Totals" column on that schedule E should be the combined totals of all Schedule E. 

If your rental costs exceed your rental income, your loss may be limited. The deductible loss amount may be limited by the loss of liability rules and the risk rules. See Form 8582, and Form 6198 to determine if the loss is limited.

If you have personal use of a residence that you rent (including a vacation home or a residence in which you rented a room), your rental and loss charges may be limited.

 

What records should I keep?

Good documentation will help you track your rental property's progress, prepare your budget, identify your source of income, track deductible expenses, prepare your income tax returns, and take charge of your income tax return items.

Keep good records of your rental business, including rental income and expenses. You must be able to document this info if your return is selected for verification. If you are audited and cannot provide evidence to support the items on your tax return, you may be subject to additional taxes and penalties.

You must be able to justify certain expense items to deduct them. Typically, you should have supporting documents, such as receipts, canceled checks, or invoices, to support your expenses. Keep track of the travel costs incurred to repair your rental property. To deduct travel expenses, you must keep records that comply with the rules in Chapter 5 of Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gifts, and Car Expenses.

You need good documentation to prepare your tax returns. These records must justify the declared income and expenses. These are usually the same documents you use to track your real estate activity and prepare your budget.


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Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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