The tax benefits of rental property ownership can’t be underestimated. In fact, you could argue the tax write-offs for rental property owners are on par with the cash flow generated by the assets themselves. After all, saving is equally as important as making money, if not more so.
Property tax deductions for rental property owners don’t get enough credit for the amount they contribute to a passive income investor’s bottom line. If for nothing else, rental property tax deductions act as a shelter for the cash generated by the property; one that can save a lot more money than many people initially realize. What’s more, qualifying landlords with a rental property that is currently generating income from tenants can claim some or all of the deductions I will discuss moving forward. Some of the most common expenses include, but are not limited to:
Everything you claim will need verification. Do not — I repeat, do not — assume you can simply make deductions without having the proof to back them up. You must keep good records of all your expenses. Good records will make tax season a lot easier on rental property owners, so be sure to keep track of where every dollar is going.
According to the I.R.S., “You must be able to document this information if your return is selected for audit. If you are audited and cannot provide evidence to support items reported on your tax returns, you may be subject to additional taxes and penalties.”
The tax benefits of rental property are as apparent as they are plentiful, but you must keep track of your expenses to take advantage of them.
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The following represents a comprehensive list of the most common tax write-offs for rental property owners:
The unsung hero of today’s greatest passive income investors, rental property depreciation is perhaps the greatest benefit nobody is talking about. At the very least, more people would be talking about rental property depreciation if they knew what it was and — more importantly — how incredible it is. In its simplest form, however, rental property depreciation is the single greatest tax benefit awarded to passive income investors.
Rental property depreciation, for the most part, is exactly what it sounds like: the inherent loss in value of a rental property. Not unlike the depreciation of something like a car, rental properties are business expenses that depreciate in value over time. Otherwise known as depreciation losses, the perceived loss in value of a home over time actually plays to the owner’s benefit, as the I.R.S. is willing to compensate the owner for the decrease in value of the rental.
The I.R.S. defines depreciation losses as “allowances for exhaustion, wear and tear (including obsolescence) of property.” According to their website, “You begin to depreciate your rental property when you place it in service. You can recover some or all of your original acquisition cost and the cost of improvements by using Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, (to report depreciation) beginning in the year your rental property is first placed in service, and beginning in any year you make improvements or add furnishings.”
Perhaps even more importantly, rental property owners may deduct a portion of the initial cost of the home every year for 27.5 years, the amount of time the I.R.S. has deemed the deductible life of a single-family home.
You may be asking yourself where I am going with all of this. Better yet, you may be wondering how depreciation is so advantageous to rental property owners. The answer is simple: the phantom deduction. Otherwise known as depreciation losses, the phantom deduction is one of the greatest benefits awarded to rental property owners. You see, homes have historically risen in value. While there are certainly times homes drop in value, history tells us they will increase in value more often than not. Therefore, any deductions you make on a single-family home over the course of the allotted 27.5 years are most likely made in the face of rising prices — hence the name phantom deduction.
The tax benefits of rental property ownership are as important as the cash flow passive investors have come to expect. If for nothing else, saving money is just as important to your bottom line as making it. Not only that, but the tax savings could be just what you need to elevate your career to the next level.