Maximize Your Profits: 24 Tax Tips for Short-Term Rental Property Managers

Discover tax tips for hosts: can you write off Airbnb expenses? Find out how to maximize your deductions in our latest blog post.

July 24, 2023

May 3, 2024


Maximize Your Profits: 24 Tax Tips for Short-Term Rental Property Managers

Key Highlights

As a savvy property manager,

  • Taking advantage of all available tax deductions can increase your rental income.
  • Keeping detailed records of all your expenses simplifies the tax preparation process and validates any claims.
  • Using accounting software can make tax time easier.

Can You Really Write Off Short-Term Rental Expenses?

There are a variety of expenses that you can deduct from your taxable income and maximize your profits. While keeping your rentals booked and guests happy is essential, savvy property managers know that profits go beyond just rent collection.

Understanding Tax Deductions for Short-Term Rental Properties

Can you write off Airbnb expenses

It is important to understand how tax deductions work and how they can benefit you. Tax deductions are business expenses that reduce your taxable income, ultimately reducing the amount of income tax you owe. These deductions are related to your rental business and can include expenses such as mortgage interest, property taxes, utility bills, maintenance and repairs, commissions and fees, and more. Additionally, expenses for rental software, such as property management or vacation rental solutions, are also tax deductible.

The Importance of Knowing What You Can Deduct

Knowing what you can deduct is crucial for two main reasons: maximizing your rental income and ensuring compliance with tax laws. Additionally, by understanding tax deductions, and keeping detailed records of your expenses, you can simplify the tax preparation process and validate any claims if you are audited. This is especially important when it comes to determining if your Short-Term Rental property qualifies as a personal residence or a vacation rental home, as this can greatly impact your taxes and deductible expenses.

Common Misconceptions About Tax Deductions

Short-Term Rentals are considered a business by the IRS. As long as you rent out the property for the minimum qualifying days, you can still deduct expenses even if you use the property yourself occasionally.

Another misconception is that hosts can deduct personal expenses, such as groceries or personal vacations, as business expenses. However, personal expenses are not deductible and can potentially raise red flags during an IRS audit.

It's also important to note that tax laws and regulations can change over time. Staying informed about the latest tax code updates and consulting with a tax professional can help ensure you are taking advantage of all available deductions while complying with tax laws.

Core Deductions: What Expenses Can You Write Off?

As a property manager, maximizing your core deductions is essential for reducing your tax liability. By leveraging these deductions efficiently, you can significantly lower your tax burden and maximize your rental income.

1. Mortgage Interest

One vital tax deduction for hosts or property managers is mortgage interest. The interest you pay on your mortgage is considered a legitimate business expense, reducing your taxable income during tax season. This deduction is essential for hosts who use their property for personal and rental purposes. By claiming this deduction, along with private mortgage insurance premiums, you can lower your tax liability and maximize your tax return.

2. Property Taxes

Property taxes can be a significant business expense, affecting the taxable income from their rental business. It's crucial to understand how property taxes, including occupancy tax, and other expenses can impact your passive income. Properly managing property taxes can help lower your tax liability and maximize your tax deductions. Be proactive in including property taxes, including occupancy tax, in your calculations to optimize your tax savings at tax time.

3. Insurance

Insurance is a vital business expense for owners, protecting against unforeseen events that could impact your rental business. Typically, premiums are deductible, reducing your taxable income. Safeguarding your business with insurance is a smart move for any host.

4. Utilities and Operational Costs

These can be considered as business expenses, lowering your taxable income. Tracking utility bills and operational costs associated with your rental business is crucial for accurate tax reporting.

5. Guest Service Fees

You may receive guest service fees from rental platforms such as Airbnb or VRBO. These fees, also known as host-service fees or guest-service fees, are typically a percentage of the rental rate and are collected by the platform on behalf of the property owner.

The good news is that guest service fees can be claimed as deductions on your tax return. These fees are classified as a business expense and can help lower your taxable income and increase your profits.

To claim guest service fees as deductions, it is important to keep detailed records of the fees received throughout the year. This includes any statements or reports provided by the rental platform that show the amount of guest service fees collected.

6. Cleaning Fees

Cleaning fees play a crucial role in maintaining your property’s appeal. By including cleaning fees in your list of tax deductions, you can effectively reduce your tax liability while maintaining the standards of your guest stay.

7. Appliances and Furniture

When setting up your rental space, remember that appliances and furniture are essential for guest comfort. Investing in quality appliances and stylish furniture not only enhances your rental business but also allows you to claim tax deductions. Ensure that these items are exclusively used for your vacation rental to maximize their potential as tax deductions.

8. Maintenance and Repairs

Regular upkeep of your rental property is crucial for guest satisfaction and your business success. Maintenance and repair costs can be significant, impacting your taxable income. From fixing leaks to painting walls, any expense related to the maintenance and repair of your rental property can be considered a business expense.

9. Laundry Expenses and Linens

Fresh linens and towels for your guests are essential for a comfortable stay, making them a legitimate business expense. Whether you hire a service or manage it yourself, these expenses can add up but can also be offset against your rental income. Keeping your guests happy with clean linens is not just good hospitality; it's also a smart tax-saving strategy.

10. Home Security

Ensuring the safety of your Short-Term Rental property is vital. Home security expenses are legitimate tax deductions.  Installing alarm systems, security cameras, or smart locks can be categorized as a business expense. These measures not only protect your property but also contribute to your peace of mind. Remember, maintaining a secure environment can attract more guests, leading to increased rental income.

11. Supplies and Amenities

Stocking up on supplies and amenities for your vacation rental is not just about providing a comfortable stay for your guests; it's also a savvy business expense that can reduce your taxable income. From toiletries to kitchen essentials, every detail counts towards enhancing your rental business.

Potential Expenses That Many Property Managers Forget to Deduct

12. Professional Fees and Services

Property managers or even hosts should not overlook deducting professional fees like legal or accounting services. These expenses directly benefit your rental business, reducing your taxable income. Hiring cleaning services or consultants also counts as deductible business expenses.

13. Travel Expenses

Don't overlook travel expenses as a potential business write-off. Any trips related to your rental business, whether for maintenance, supplies, or even attending industry events such as conferences, can be deducted from your taxable income. Gas, oil changes, airfare, accommodation, meals – they all add up and can significantly reduce your taxable income.

14. Property Management Software

Investing in property management software can streamline your business operations. This tool helps track bookings, manage reservations, and coordinate cleaning schedules efficiently. By automating these tasks, you free up time to focus on enhancing guest experiences and growing your rental income. With features like automated messaging and financial reporting, property management software simplifies your workload and boosts your overall efficiency.

Marketing, Advertising, and Promotions

To attract more guests and stand out in the competitive market, effective marketing and promotion are key. By strategically investing in marketing, you can increase your bookings and maximize your rental income.

15. Professional Photography

Capturing your Short-Term Rental space beautifully through professional photography can significantly enhance your listing's appeal. High-quality photos can attract more guests, leading to increased bookings and potentially higher rental income. By showcasing your rental property in the best light, you can stand out among competitors and create a lasting impression on potential guests.

16. Listing Fees

When it comes to listing fees for your Short-Term Rental property, it's essential to track and deduct them as a legitimate business expense. Ensure you keep detailed records of all your listing fees on your Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and any OTA maintenance fees to accurately reflect them in your tax return.

17. Marketing Materials

Consider investing in high-quality marketing materials to attract more guests and boost bookings. Professionally crafted brochures, flyers, and business cards can leave a lasting impression on potential guests. Don't underestimate the power of visually appealing materials in making your vacation rental listing stand out from the competition.

18. Online Advertising

When it comes to online advertising, promoting listings and attracting guests is key. By strategically investing in digital marketing platforms such as social media ads, Google AdWords, or display advertising, your property can reach a larger audience and boost bookings (when done right). Targeting specific demographics or interests can bring in quality guests, maximizing your rental income.

19. Brand Creation

Eye-catching images and professionally designed logos can enhance your property's appeal, attracting more guests. Investing in visual aesthetics is not just a creative choice; it can significantly boost your listing's visibility and bookings.

20. Graphic Design

When building your listing, don't overlook the impact of graphic design. Eye-catching images and professionally designed logos can enhance your property's appeal, attracting more guests. Investing in visual aesthetics is not just a creative choice; it can significantly boost your listing's visibility and bookings.

Home Office Expenses

Running your rental business means you can deduct home office expenses. These expenses include a percentage of your rent or mortgage, utilities, and internet costs directly related to your rental home hosting activities. Calculating these expenses correctly can significantly lower your taxable income, reducing your tax liability.

21. Rent or Mortgage Percentage

Calculating the rent or mortgage percentage for your vacation rental is crucial for tax purposes. To determine this, you need to assess the square footage of your home office compared to your total home size. By dividing your home office square footage by the total square footage of your home, you can obtain the percentage of rent or mortgage that can be claimed as a business expense. This can also be used in the case that you work from home and use your primary address as an office, but also rent part of the space out. 

22. Utility Percentage

When it comes to managing your business expenses, don't overlook the utilities percentage. This deduction can help reduce your taxable income by allowing you to claim a portion of your utility bills as a business expense. Keeping track of your utility bills and allocating the correct percentage for your home office space can significantly lower your tax liability. This can also be used in the case that you work from home and use your primary address as an office, but also rent part of the space out. 

23. Internet Percentage

Make sure to calculate the percentage of your internet costs based on the square feet of your home office to the total square footage of your house. This proportion can then be applied to your monthly internet bill for tax purposes. This can also be used in the case that you work from home and use your primary address as an office, but also rent part of the space out. 

24. Office Supplies

Your pens, paper, and computer essentials can be considered a business expense, reducing your taxable income. Keep receipts for these items to claim them on your tax return. By categorizing them for your rental business, you can lower your tax liability. These small expenses add up when it's tax time.

Your Next Steps

Remember that maximizing deductions is key. Keep meticulous records of all business expenses related to your rental property to reduce your taxable income. Ensure you are well-versed with the tax code applicable to vacation rental businesses and consult with a tax advisor for personalized tax advice. By strategically utilizing deductions, you can simplify your tax liability, making tax time less daunting and more rewarding. 

Boost Your Profits Now! 

Sign up and put these Tax Tips into Action with Clearing!

Clearing is a Financial Technology Company, not a bank. Deposit Accounts are issued by Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC. All company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Check out other articles