Real estate investing tax breaks are one of the big reasons many investors buy property. As an investor, you can write off all sorts of things that will end up reducing your taxable income, and therefore, reducing the amount that you owe.
Just to give you a feel, here are some of the things you can deduct that you’re probably already spending money on in your real estate investing activities:
- Travel to go see your property (Maybe it’s even in the same city as your in-laws or your favorite beach vacation spot)
- Interest on your mortgage for the property
- Insurance on the property
- Property Management, Accounting, Legal Fees, Accounting, and other professional advice
- Training and education associated with your property
- Repairs and Maintenance at the property
But remember, you can’t charge for your own time working at the property, you can only account for things that you pay someone else to do. So, the next time you’re wondering whether to pay the neighbor’s kid to mow the lawn at your rental property or do it yourself, remember, you’d be paying him with pre-tax dollars.
Don’t buy a property JUST to save money on taxes…
Tax savings can really add up! They can turn a property that puts money into your pocket every month into a tax write-off. But remember, it’s not all fun and games. You still have the responsibility of finding a good deal, managing your property, and selling it when the time is right. Don’t buy a property JUST for the tax benefits alone (a lot of people who did that got wiped out – bankrupted! – in the 1980’s when the tax law changed and their tax write-off’s went away.) Always make sure your property fundamentals are sound!
Knowing When To Sell To Maximize Tax Breaks
Knowing When To Sell To Maximize Tax Breaks Speaking of selling property, bear in mind that one of the purposes of the tax law is creating incentives for you to do certain things. The government is rewarding you (with tax breaks) for taking desired actions.
In the case of real estate investing, the government wants to reward you for holding property long term (over 1 year) as affordable rental housing in many cases – rather than having you get rich with short term fix-and-flip strategies.
If you hold the property for less than a year, the government treats your income as short-term capital gains tax, which is taxed at your ordinary income tax rate (that’s HIGHEST of your tax brackets, usually).
To get the lowest tax rates, hold the property for at least a year and your profit on the sale will be considered long-term capital gains and the tax treatment will be much better. Currently, long term capital gains tax rates are just 15%, but President Obama has suggested he will raise the tax rates to 20-25%… so stay tuned!)
If you don’t want to pay any taxes at all when you go to sell your property, consider participating in a 1031 Exchange, or Starker Exchange (same thing, different names). This is a transaction in which an intermediary helps you sell one property and then buy another similar investment property. You can roll all your profits from the sale of the first building into the purchase of the second building. If you do – you won’t pay any tax on the new building! Do your own research, but it’s worth getting more information on 1031’s if you’re selling a property with a lot of equity and want to make sure you’ll minimize your tax bill!
Real Estate Professional Status
Long term capital gains tax treatment isn’t the only real estate investing tax break in jeopardy… The Real Estate Professional status is also getting harder to qualify for. Real Estate Professional is an IRS designation which says you spend at least 750 hours a year working in real estate investing, and that real estate is your primary business. If you qualify for this designation, you have the ability to deduct ALL your losses from real estate, even if they are in excess of $25,000/year. If you don’t qualify, your real estate deductions may be limited, especially if you are a passive investor not actively involved in real estate investing, or you have an especially high income.
Another bug-a-boo in the land of real estate investing tax benefits is the AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax. This is a tax that hits high income earners if they have too many tax deductions, even if those deductions are legitimate. Congress keeps patching this, but it’s hitting – and hurting the middle class. If you earn more than about $130,000/year this may affect your family, so consult with a tax advisor to see if you’ll be able to take advantage of the real estate tax breaks you’re expecting. midtown modern