7 Tax Benefits You Shouldn't Ignore if You Manage Short-Term Rentals

Discover seven tax benefits you shouldn't ignore if you manage short-term rentals. Reduce your tax bill and maximize your rental income with these valuable insights.

July 17, 2023


7 Tax Benefits You Shouldn't Ignore if You Manage Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rentals can be a lucrative source of income, but it's important to be aware of the tax implications. As a Short-Term Rental manager, understanding the tax code and taking advantage of the available tax benefits for Short-Term Rentals can help you reduce your tax bill and enhance your real estate professional status.

Understanding Short-Term Rental Taxes

Navigating the world of Short-Term Rental real estate taxes can be complex, but it's essential for every rental manager to have a basic understanding. Here's why:

Classification Matters

Depending on how often you rent out your property and for how long, the IRS might classify your rental activity differently. For instance, if you rent your property for less than 14 days a year, you might not need to report the adjusted gross income. However, renting it out for longer periods subjects you to different tax rules.

Varied Tax Rates

Different states and municipalities have their own tax rates and regulations for Short-Term Rentals. Some might charge a hotel or occupancy tax, while others might have specific licensing requirements. Being aware of these can help you avoid unexpected tax bills and penalties.

Potential for Audit

The IRS pays close attention to Short-Term Rental income, especially with platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo making it easier for individuals to own vacation rentals and become landlords. Ensuring that you report all your income and take only the legitimate deductions can protect you in the event of an audit.

1. Home Office Deduction

If you use a part of your home exclusively for your Short-Term Rental business, you may be eligible for a home office deduction. This allows you to deduct a portion of your home expenses, including rent, mortgage interest payments, utilities, and insurance, as a business expense. Keep in mind that the space must be used solely for your short-term vacation rental business to qualify for this deduction.

2. Depreciation

You can also depreciate the cost of your rental property over several years, which can help lower tax burden on your income taxes. Depreciation is calculated based on the cost of the property, excluding the value of the land, and is spread out over 27.5 years for residential rental properties. It's essential to consult a tax professional to determine the specific bonus depreciation rules that apply to your situation.

3. Travel Expenses

If you travel for business purposes related to your Short-Term Rental property, such as meeting with clients or performing maintenance, you can deduct expenses related to your travels. This includes transportation, lodging, meals, and other relevant expenses. Keep detailed records and retain receipts to support your rental property tax deductions.

4. Deductible Expenses

As a Short-Term Rental manager, you can deduct various business-related expenses. This includes advertising costs, a host service fee, cleaning and maintenance expenses, property management fees, insurance premiums, and office supplies.

Maintaining accurate records throughout the year will help maximize your deductions. These deductible expenses can  lighten your financial burden.

5. Retirement Contributions

If you're self-employed as a short-term or vacation rental manager, consider making contributions to a retirement plan such as a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP-IRA) or a Solo 401(k). Not only will this help you save for retirement, but it can also reduce your tax bill by lowering your taxable income.

6. Section 179 Deduction

When you purchase equipment or furnishings for your Short-Term Rental property, such as appliances or furniture, you may qualify for the Section 179 deduction. This deduction allows you to deduct the entire cost of the equipment in the year of purchase, rather than depreciating it over several years. Be sure to consult with a tax professional to determine if your purchases meet the requirements for this deduction.

7. Passive Activity Loss Rules

If your Short-Term Rental properties generate a net loss, you may be able to utilize the passive activity loss rules to offset your other income. This provision allows you to deduct up to $25,000 of rental losses per year, subject to certain income limitations. Understanding and applying these mortgage interest deduction rules can help reduce your overall tax liability.

Tips for Effective Tax Planning

Effective tax planning is crucial for maximizing your benefits and minimizing your liabilities. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Stay Organized

Keep all your receipts, invoices, and other documentation in a well-organized manner. Consider using software or apps designed for property managers to track expenses and income, like Clearing.

Consult Regularly

Don't wait until tax season to speak with a tax professional. Regular consultations can help you stay on top of potential deductions and credits, ensure you're taking advantage of all available benefits, and pay self-employment taxes.

Stay Updated

Tax laws and regulations can change frequently. Make it a point to stay updated on any tax cuts or changes that might affect rental tax or your Short-Term Rental business.

Final Thoughts

Managing Short-Term Rentals comes with real estate tax considerations. By taking advantage of the available tax benefits, you can effectively reduce your tax bill or property taxes and retain a larger portion of your vacation rental business income.

However, it's crucial to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor who can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances. Remember to keep accurate records, report income, and stay in compliance with tax laws and regulations.

By optimizing your tax benefits, you can maximize your tax savings and the profitability of your Short-Term Rental business.

Learn how Clearing can help with tax calculations by signing up for a free, personalized demo

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