Some landlords, especially ones who own property they never intended to rent, might not realize all the tax write-offs they can take from rental property. If you don’t take advantage of all the tax write-offs available to you, you’re paying more taxes than you need to. Rental real estate can be a gold mine when it comes to tax write-offs.
Interest and Property Tax
If you pay a mortgage for your rental property, you can deduct the interest you pay on your taxes. You also can deduct interest you pay on loans you took out to improve the property. If you used your credit card to pay for repairs or to buy certain appliances, you can deduct any credit card interest you pay for those items. You also can deduct the property taxes you pay on the property.
If your property is starting to feel like a money pit, take solace in knowing that you can deduct some of the cost of repairs. Any money you spend to repair the property is tax-deductible. Every necessary repair is included, such as plumbing repairs, fixing windows, painting the house, fixing a damaged floor and fixing gutters. A distinction is made, however, between repairing and improving. For example, if some of the hardwood floor was damaged from a leaky roof, you can deduct the cost to fix the roof and to repair the parts of the floor that were damaged. You cannot fully deduct the cost to put in a new floor, however. That’s considered an improvement and cannot be deducted fully in a single year.
When you drive to the rental property, you can deduct the cost of the gas to get there and back and the cost of driving to the home improvement store for supplies. If you need to fly to get to your rental property, you can deduct your airfare. If you need to stay overnight in a hotel or motel traveling to the property, you can deduct that expense, too. You can even deduct the cost of the meals you buy while traveling to and from your property. You cannot, however, deduct what you would spend on a vacation you might tie into traveling to your property. The Internal Revenue Service looks for this, so deduct only what you spend that’s related to the property. Document all your expenses, recommends legal website Nolo.com.
It doesn’t matter if you own your own home or if you rent an apartment; if you do work at home related to your rental property, you can deduct home office expenses on your income tax. You just need to meet one of these qualifications: You need to use your home office as the primary place you conduct your rental business or you need to meet with rental-related visitors there.
If you use a property manager to handle the property for you, you can deduct the fees you pay. The same goes if you pay an attorney or an accountant for work related to the property. You can deduct insurance premiums you pay for homeowners', flood, earthquake and landlord liability insurance. If there is a catastrophe, such as a fire or vandalism, you are eligible for a certain deduction depending on how much of your property was destroyed and how much you get from insurance.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.