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We are dedicated to keeping clients abreast of the latest developments and tax-saving strategies. This section includes a library of hundreds of timely articles about business, taxes, finances, trends and the like. The articles are categorized by subject matter, which can be accessed from the links. Click on your topic of interest and find a wealth of information.

RENTAL REAL ESTATE AS AN INVESTMENT

A popular form of long-term investment is real estate rentals.  Rentals can fall into several varieties, of which real estate rentals is the most common.  This material will explain some of the tax ramifications of renting real estate, both residential and commercial.  Specifically excluded from this discussion are transient rentals, where the tenants rent for an average of seven days or less, such as motels and equipment (machinery) rentals.  Both are considered self-employment businesses for tax purposes and thus subject to self-employment taxes.

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Active Participation
If you “actively participate” in the residential rental activity, you may be able to deduct a loss of up to $25,000 ($12,500 if you’re married, file separately, and live apart from your spouse for the entire year—but if you’re married, file separately and don’t live apart from your spouse for the entire year, you’re not eligible for this break at all) against ordinary (nonpassive) income such as your wages or investment income.

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Depreciating Rental Property
“Depreciation” is an accounting term for writing off the wear and tear on an asset that has a useful life of more than one year and costs over $100. Generally, rental real estate improvements must be depreciated over a period of 39 years....

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First, Last and Security Deposits
Generally, landlords require a new tenant to pay the first and last month’s rent in advance along with a security deposit. A frequent question is whether to treat these payments as current-year income or income to a future year. The IRS says that...

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Operating Expenses
For tax purposes, you will figure your profit or loss each year from operating the rental property. Generally, you can virtually deduct all expenses incurred to operate the rental.

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Outright Sale
When a rental property is sold outright, the entire gain will be taxable in the year of sale. Let’s assume (without considering property improvements or buying or selling costs) that you purchase a rental for $50,000 and then several years later...

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Real Estate Professional
If you qualify as a “real estate professional” (which requires the performance of substantial services in real property trades or businesses), your rental real estate activities are not automatically treated as passive, and so losses from...

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Renting Part of Property
If you rent part of your property, such as a room or a portion of the house, you must divide certain expenses between the part of the property used for rental purposes and the part of the property used for personal purposes, as though you actually had two separate pieces of property. You can deduct the expenses related to the part of the property used for rental purposes, such as home mortgage interest and real estate taxes, as rental expenses. You can also deduct as a rental expense a part of other expenses that normally are nondeductible personal expenses, such as utilities and home repairs (such as painting the outside of your house). You do not have to divide the expenses that belong only to the rental part of your property.

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Renting to a Relative
Special rules may apply when renting a home or apartment to a relative. If you rent a home to a relative who: (1) uses it as his or her principal residence (that is, not just as a second or vacation home) for the year, and (2) it is rented at a fair rental...

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Repairs vs. Improvements
When you figure your profit or loss from operating the rental property each year, you can deduct the cost of repairs to the rental property. However, any improvements that were made must be depreciated over the improvement’s useful life. How do you distinguish a repair from an improvement?

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Separating Improvements from Land
Not all of the cost of acquiring real estate is depreciable. Specifically, the cost of the land is not depreciable and must be separated from the improvements. Thus, you should identify and document at the time that you acquire real estate, the part of...

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Tax-Deferred Exchange
A tax-deferred exchange (otherwise known as a “1031 exchange” referring to the tax code section pertaining to exchanges of property or “tax-free exchange” and a misleading title since the tax is actually deferred and not free“) can be used as a means of avoiding immediate taxation on the gain from a rental property by deferring the gain into a replacement property.

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Vacation Home Rental
There are special tax consequences when you rent out your vacation home for part of the year. The tax treatment depends on how many days it is rented and your level of personal use. Personal use includes vacation use by your relatives (even if you charge them market rate rent) and use by non-relatives if a market rate rent is not charged.

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