Author: Simon Filip

Simon Filip, CPA, MSPA, MST

Tax Rules for Vacation Home Rentals

Tax Rules for Vacation Home RentalsGet the most from your vacation home rental property by knowing the tax rules

Summer is the time of family vacations, sun, sand and beaches. It’s also the time when a vacation home may be used to generate additional cash flow through rental.

Part-time landlords need to remember that, in many cases, the Internal Revenue Service expects them to report the extra income.

Short-Term Rentals

In general, if a taxpayer rents their vacation home for fewer than 14 days out of the year, the income is tax free and the property is considered a personal residence.  Under this scenario, taxpayers are not required to report any rental income on their tax return.  However, expenses attributable to the rental cannot be deducted, such as cleaning fees or rental commissions.

More than 14 Rental Days

If a taxpayer’s rental days are above the 14-day threshold, the income is required to be reported. Under this scenario, a taxpayer can also deduct a variety of direct rental expenses such as licenses, advertising and rental commissions.

Other expenses such as repairs, mortgage interest, property taxes and utilities are deductible on a prorated basis based upon the number of days a taxpayer rented the home out.

Claiming Expenses on Rental Property

When filing taxes on a rental property, an individual will use IRS Schedule E: Supplemental Income and Loss. The IRS provides an extensive listing of deductions in Publication 527, however common expenses include:

  • Real Estate/Property Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Cleaning
  • Repairs and Maintenance
  • Depreciation
  • Legal and Professional Fees
  • Advertising
  • Utilities
  • Commissions

We’ve got your back

For additional information on the taxability of your vacation home rental, contact Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, at [email protected] or (201) 655-7411.

SALT Workarounds Squashed

$10k Limit on SALT Deductions Stands

On Tuesday the Treasury Department issued final regulations that officially prohibit high-tax states like SALT Workarounds SquashedNew Jersey, New York, and Connecticut from utilizing workarounds to evade the new $10,000 limit on state and local tax (“SALT”) deductions.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act capped at $10,000 the amount of state and local tax payments that taxpayers could deduct from their federal returns.  In response, a number of state governments enacted or proposed workarounds to find a way to remove the economic pain of the cap.

In the workaround, a state resident could, instead of paying state property taxes, choose to donate to a state-created charitable fund, for example, $40,000. The resident would then get to write off the $40,000 as a charitable donation on his or her federal taxes and receive a state tax credit for some of that donation, easing the burden of the lower write-off for their SALT levy.

The regulations will allow taxpayers to receive a tax write-off equal to the difference between the state tax credits they receive and their charitable donations. That means the taxpayer who makes a $40,000 charitable donation to pay property taxes and receives a $25,000 state tax credit would only be entitled to a charitable write off of $15,000 on his or her federal tax bill.

The Treasury indicated it would continue to evaluate the issue and release further guidance if necessary.

We’ve got your back

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and keep you up to speed on the latest tax developments. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

Real Estate in Your IRA: A Good Idea?

Real estate can be a great investment, and many people don’t know they can also put the property into their IRAs.

real estate and your iraHowever, they have to be careful: one small mistake and an IRA’s tax advantages disappear.

So what are the rules to follow to have a qualified real estate purchase?

  • You can’t mortgage the property.
  • You can’t work on the property yourself — you’ve got to pay an independent party to do any repairs.
  • You don’t get the tax breaks if the property operates at a loss. You can’t claim depreciation either.
  • All costs associated with the property must be paid out of your IRA and all income deposited into the IRA. You can find yourself in a bind if there isn’t enough cash in the IRA to deal with a major property expense.
  • You can’t receive any personal benefit from the property — you can’t live in it or use it in any way. It has to be strictly for investment purposes. So that vacation property you’re considering buying or a house to rent to your kids — not allowable.

More rules for real estate in IRAs

Any investment made by your IRA must be considered an arm’s-length transaction: You can’t use money in your IRA to buy or sell real estate to or from yourself or family members. You can’t receive any indirect benefit either — you can’t pay yourself or a family member to be the property manager.

For a traditional IRA, you must take required minimum distributions at 70 1/2 and that applies with real estate as well. It can be awfully hard to sell real estate off in portions, so then how do you cover the required distributions without cash? These are problems you need to solve before you start your retirement investing. However, you can roll over money from the sale of one property to the purchase of another without any tax consequences, inside the IRA.

Three more points to weigh when thinking about investing in real estate IRAs:

  • Your IRA cannot purchase a property that you currently own. IRS regulations don’t allow transactions that are considered self-dealing. They don’t allow your self-directed IRA to buy property from or sell property to any disqualified person — including yourself.
  • A real estate investment needs to be titled in the name of your IRA, not to you personally. All documents related to the investment must be titled correctly to avoid delays.
  • Real estate in an IRA can be purchased without 100 percent funding from your IRA. You can use undivided interest and partnering with others.

For more, see my post, “Using a Self-Directed IRA to Buy Real Estate.”

We’ve got your back

There are a lot of working parts to keep in mind if you want to hold real estate in your IRA, and it might not be right for everyone. With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and taxes. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

Does Your Rental Real Estate Activity Qualify for the QBI Deduction?

Knowing the requirements for Qualified Business Income (QBI) deductions can help you save taxes on your rental real estate

Does Your Rental Real Estate Activity Qualify for the QBI Deduction?The IRS recently issued guidance on the 20% tax deduction for Qualified Business Income (QBI) and rental real estate activity. Here’s what you need to know:

If all the general requirements (which vary based on your level of taxable income) are met, the deduction can be claimed for a rental real estate activity – but only if the activity rises to the level of being a trade or business. An activity is generally considered to be a trade or business if it is regular, continuous, and considerable.

The IRS safe harbor

Because determining whether a rental real estate enterprise meets those criteria can be difficult, the IRS has provided a safe harbor under which such an enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the QBI deduction (IRS Notice 2019-7). For this purpose, a rental real estate enterprise is defined as an interest in real property held for the production of rents and may consist of an interest in multiple properties. Commercial and residential real estate may not be part of the same enterprise.

Under the safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business if the following requirements are satisfied during the tax year for a rental real estate enterprise:

  • Separate books and records are maintained to reflect income and expenses for each rental real estate enterprise.
  • 250 or more hours of rental services are performed annually with respect to the rental enterprise. Note that these hours of service do not have to be performed by you personally.
  • The taxpayer maintains contemporaneous records, including time reports, logs, or similar documents, for: (i) hours of all services performed; (ii) description of all services performed; (iii) dates on which such services were performed; and (iv) who performed the services. Such records are to be made available for inspection at the request of the IRS. The contemporaneous records requirement does not apply to the 2018 tax year.

Rental services defined

For purposes of the safe harbor, rental services include:

  • Advertising to rent or lease the real estate
  • Negotiating and executing leases
  • Verifying information contained in prospective tenant applications
  • Collection of rent
  • Daily operation, maintenance, and repair of the property
  • Management of the real estate
  • Purchase of materials
  • Supervision of employees and independent contractors

Real estate not eligible for safe harbor

Some types of rental real estate are not eligible for the safe harbor. Real estate used by the taxpayer (including an owner or beneficiary of passthrough entity) as a residence for any part of the year is generally not eligible for the safe harbor, nor is real estate rented or leased under a triple net lease.

To qualify for the real estate safe harbor in 2019, it is important for you to maintain contemporaneous records starting with the 2019 tax year. I have listed above the information which needs to be tracked as part of the 250 hours of rental services above.

We’ve got your back

As the real estate tax guy, I’m here to assist you in all your real estate accounting matters. If you have questions about the QBI deduction as it applies to your rental real estate, you can reach me at [email protected] or 201.655.7411.

Understanding IRC Code Section 1033

Understanding IRC Code Section 1033Unfortunately, 2018 has been another year of major disasters due to hurricanes, fires, and floods. As taxpayers turn to the process of restoring property, some may be considering whether a 1033 exchange is more relevant than a 1031 exchange.

This blog entry examines some of the key aspects of the 1033 exchange.

What is an IRC 1033 exchange?

A section 1033 exchange, named for Section 1033 of the Internal Revenue Code, applies when you lose property through a casualty, theft or condemnation and realize gain from the insurance or condemnation proceeds. If your accountant or tax advisor believes you will realize gain from the insurance or condemnation proceeds, you may be able to defer that gain using a 1033 exchange.

Compared to IRC 1031

Internal Revenue Code Section 1031, commonly referred to as a “like-kind exchange,” does not allow a taxpayer to hold or benefit from the proceeds during the exchange period. It also requires the replacement property be identified within 45 days and acquired within 180 days after the closing of the relinquished property. If a taxpayer is deferring gain in a 1033 exchange, he can hold the proceeds until the acquisition of the replacement property and an intermediary is not required.

Replacement property

Another difference between a 1031 and a 1033 exchange is the standard that is used to limit what you can buy as replacement property. In general, the standard is more restrictive under 1033 than the like-kind standard under IRC 1031. Section 1033 provides the replacement property must be “similar or related in service or use” to the property that was lost in the casualty or condemnation. It is important to note the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated tax-deferred like-kind exchanges of personal property, but allows exchanges of business and investment real estate.

Time period

The time period allowed for the taxpayer to acquire the replacement property is much more liberal than Section 1031 exchanges. The period begins at the earlier of when the taxpayer first discovers the threat or imminence of condemnation proceedings or when the condemnation or other involuntary conversion occurs. The period ends either two or three years after the end of the tax year in which the conversion occurs. The time period is three years for real property held for business or investment and two years for all other property. If the taxpayer has lost property in a federally declared disaster area, Section 1033 gives the taxpayer a two year extension on the replacement period, granting a total of four years in which to replace the lost property.

Taxpayers having lost their property due to casualties or those facing condemnation should consult with their tax advisors to take advantage of the tax deferral afforded under Section 1033 if they wish to replace their lost property.

We’ve got your back

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and taxes. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

 

Deeper Dive into Single Member Limited Liability Companies

Deeper Dive into Single Member Limited Liability CompaniesEntity classification

LLCs with two or more members can be treated as a partnership or corporation for tax purposes. An LLC with one owner or single member limited liability company (SMLLC) can choose to be treated as a corporation or a “disregarded entity.”

The member of a SMLLC who wishes to be treated as corporation for tax purposes must file either Form 8832 to be treated as a ‘C’ Corporation or Form 2553 to elect classification as an ‘S’ Corporation. Where an individual does not file Forms 8832 or 2553 to elect to be treated as a corporation, the IRS will treat the LLC as a disregarded entity and it will be taxed as a sole proprietorship.

Tax treatment

By default, the IRS treats a SMLLC as a “disregarded entity.” This means the IRS will not look at a SMLLC as an entity separate from its sole member for the purpose of filing tax returns. Instead, similar to a sole proprietorship, the IRS will disregard the SMLLC and the member will report income and expenses and pay taxes for the business as part of his or her own personal tax return. Taxable income or loss generated by an operating business will be reported on Schedule C, while rental income will be reported on Schedule E. Since the ultimate responsibility for paying taxes on income generated by a SMLLC is passed through to the member, this way of taxing profits is called pass-through taxation.

Profits earned

As a disregarded entity, if the SMLLC has taxable profits for a given year, the sole member is required to pay taxes on that profit, regardless of whether the profits are actually distributed to the member. It is not relevant whether a member of a SMLLC leaves the profits in the business bank account or withdraws the money. Regardless, all income or loss are reported by the SMLLC owner for income taxation.

Example

Steve’s SMLLC, which owns rental real estate, earned $25,000 this year after expenses and depreciation. Steve decides that he doesn’t need the money and will leave the entire $25,000 in his business checking account to use next year. Steve will have to report and pay tax on the full $25,000.

SMLLC to partnership

There are instances when a SMLLC ceases to be a disregarded entity. One instance this is accomplished is through the addition of one or more new members to the limited liability company. The LLC’s tax reporting after an additional member is admitted no longer is reflected on Schedules C or E of the former sole member. The entity has become a multi-member limited liability company and must obtain an Employer Identification Number and file a partnership return.

We’ve got your back

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and taxes. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

Understanding the Mortgage Interest Deduction after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Understanding the Mortgage Interest Deduction after the Tax Cuts and Jobs ActThe TCJA modified the mortgage interest deduction for homeowners. Here’s what you need to know about the changes.

Home ownership has long been the American dream.  Mortgage loans have made it possible for the majority of American homeowners to afford buying a home. The government has encouraged home-ownership by offering tax breaks linked to mortgages, but recent changes in tax law changes how much a typical homeowner-taxpayer will benefit from the deductions. In 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed the rules on how much mortgage interest can be deducted from taxable income.

Mortgage limits

Mortgage interest was one of the biggest deductions that tax law allowed. Unlike interest in borrowing for personal expenses, mortgage interest on a taxpayer’s residence can be deducted as an itemized deduction.

TCJA modified the mortgage interest deduction in several ways. The change that garnered the most attention was the reduction in the amount of interest that you’re allowed to deduct. Going forward, taxpayers will only be able to deduct interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt, down from $1 million under prior law.

The old $1 million mortgage limit is grandfathered in for existing mortgages, but if a taxpayer obtains a new mortgage post-TCJA, they will be subject to the lower limit. Taxpayers obtaining new mortgages exceeding $750,000are still eligible for a mortgage deduction, however, it will only be on the portion of interest attributable to the first $750,000 borrowing.

Home equity debt

Under old law, taxpayers could deduct interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt. This allowed taxpayers to do whatever they wanted with the money, including paying down other types of debt (credit card, student loan, auto loans, etc.) or spending on things unrelated to their residence while still able to deduct the interest.

Tax reform under TCJA partially took away the ability to deduct interest on home equity debt. The interest is still tax deductible if the loan is used to buy, build, or improve your home and doesn’t bring the total outstanding mortgage above the new $750,000 limit. If the home equity debt was used for other purposes, it is no longer deductible. Unlike other changes, existing home equity loans were not grandfathered in.

Refinancing

It is important for taxpayers to understand how refinancing an existing mortgage will work for income tax purposes. When a taxpayer takes a mortgage to buy or build a home, it counts as home acquisition debt and is capped at $750,000. A mortgage for other purposes is treated as a home equity debt and now receives no interest deduction. When a taxpayer refinances a mortgage they originally counted as home acquisition debt, the refinanced mortgage will also count as home acquisition debt as long as it is in the same amount. If there is excess borrowed in the refinancing, the extra portion of cash pulled out will be treated as home equity debt, so that portion of the interest you pay won’t be deductible unless it is used to improve the home.

Key takeaways

  1. Interest payments are deductible on mortgage debt up to $750,000 (formerly $1 million).
  2. Deduction for other home equity debt (HELOCs and second mortgages eliminated (formerly $100,000).

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and taxes. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

Real Estate FAQs from Last Month

Answers to real estate FAQs on 1031s and more

My team and I regularly receive questions on real estate-related topics. In this blog post, I answer some of those questions as they are important and others likely need the answers.

Realty Transfer Fee

Question: What is the realty transfer fee and who can expect to pay it?
Answers to this month's real estate FAQs
Answer:  The Realty Transfer Fee, also known as “RTF,” is a fee imposed by the State of New Jersey to offset the costs of tracking real estate transactions. Upon the transfer of the deed to the buyer, the seller pays the RTF, which is based upon the property sales price.

The RTF rate is a graduated rate and there are two different structures, depending on whether the total consideration is over or under $350,000.

It is important to note that a 1% fee must be paid by the buyer on all real estate transactions over $1 million in all commercial and residential property classes. This is also known as the “Mansion Tax.”

1031 Exchange Identification Rule

Question: What happens if you list three properties as replacement properties for your 1031 exchange, but all properties are no longer available?

Answer: One of the requirements of a 1031 exchange is taxpayers must identify a list of properties for potential purchase within 45 calendar days. Whichever property is ultimately purchased must be on this list. The rule allows taxpayers to identify three properties without limitation. Those listed are property that may be purchased, however not all are required to be purchased. If more than three properties are identified, the IRS rules become narrower and stringent.

The list can be changed an infinite amount of times until midnight of the 45th day. If the taxpayer is beyond the 45th day, the list is unchangeable and only properties listed can be chosen to complete the exchange. If the properties are not available after the 45th day, a 1031 exchange cannot be completed and the transaction is not eligible for deferral under Code Section 1031.

Section 179 Expensing

Question: Did the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) change 179 expensing for rental property owners?

Answer: A provision of the tax code, commonly known as Section 179 deduction, allows taxpayers to deduct the entire cost of eligible property in the first year it is placed in service. For rental real estate owners, eligible property includes the majority of improvements to the interior portion of a nonresidential building, provided the improvement is put to use after the date the building was placed in service

The TCJA expanded the definition of eligible property to include expenditures for nonresidential roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems.

We’ve got your back

Have a burning real estate question? Email me and I’ll answer it in an upcoming post.

Qualified Joint Venture between Spouses

Qualified Joint Venture between SpousesAn unincorporated business jointly owned by a married couple is generally classified as a partnership for federal tax purposes. However, in 2007, there was an addition to the Internal Revenue Code that excludes from partnership status a Qualified Joint Venture (“QJV”) conducted by a married couple who file a joint return. This was enacted by Congress to alleviate what was considered an unnecessary burden of filing partnership returns where the only members of a business joint venture are a husband and wife filing a joint income tax return.

Definition of a Qualified Joint Venture

QJV is defined as any joint venture involving the conduct of a trade or business if:

  1. the only members of the joint venture are married;
  2. both spouses materially participate;[1] and
  3. both spouses elect the application of QJV treatment.

A qualified joint venture, for purposes of the provision enacted in 2007, includes only businesses that are owned and operated by spouses as co-owners and not in the name of a state law entity (including a limited partnership or limited liability company). If the business is owned and operated by spouses as co-owners, it will not qualify for the election. There are special rules for married couple state law entities in community property states.[2]

Filing requirements for qualified joint ventures

As a result of utilizing the QJV election each spouse should file a separate Schedule C reporting his or her respective share of the items of the venture. There is no prescribed form for making the election.  The election is deemed made on a jointly filed Form 1040 by dividing all items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit between each spouse in accordance with each spouse’s respective interest in the joint venture, and each spouse filing with the Form 1040 a separate Schedule C (Profit or Loss from Business).

QJV implications for real estate

Now that you have the basics of a QJV, you might be thinking, “isn’t this a real estate blog?”

You’re correct, this is a real estate blog.

If you and your spouse each materially participate as defined under the at-risk and passive activity limitations and you file a joint return for the tax year, you may elect to be taxed as a qualified joint venture instead of a partnership. By making the election, you will not be required to file Form 1065 Return of Partnership Income, for any year the election is in effect and will instead report the income and deduction directly on your joint return.

To make this election for a rental real estate business, check the “QJV” box on line 2 for each property that is part of the qualified joint venture.

The confusion surrounding a QJV typically arises in non-community property states, including New Jersey and New York, where spouses jointly own interests in an LLC.  The LLC purchases a rental property, which now needs to be reported on a partnership return instead of Schedule E of the individuals’ 1040s. As noted above, the QJV will not apply to a venture that is in the name of a state law entity.

We’ve got your back

If you are considering not filing a partnership return because of the QJV election, you should contact your preparer to review the rules, especially related to rentals owned by LLCs where spouses are the only members.

With Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, on your side, you can focus on your real estate investments while he and his team take care of your accounting and taxes. Contact him at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.

[1] IRC Section 469(h).

[2] Rev. Proc. 2002-69.

Tax Implications on Sale of a Partnership Interest

In determining gain or loss on sale of a partnership interest, taxpayers are often surprised to find they have a taxable gain.

For income tax purposes gain or loss is the difference between the amount realized and adjusted basis of the partnership interest in the hands of the partner.

Amount Realized

The amount the partner will realize will include any cash and the fair market value of any property received.  Further, if the partnership has liabilities, the amount realized will include the partner’s share of the partnership liabilities. If the partner remains liable for the debt, the amount realized will not include the partner’s share of the liability.Tax Implications on Sale of a Partnership Interest

Examples of Amount Realized:

Example 1 – Sale of Partnership interest with no debt:

Amy is a member in ABC, LLC which has no outstanding liabilities. Amy sells her entire interest to Dave for $30,000 of cash and property that has a fair market value of $70,000. Amy’s amount realized is $100,000.

Example 2 – Sale of partnership interest with partnership debt:

Amy is a member of ABC, LLC and has a $23,000 basis in her interest. Amy’s membership interest is 1/3 of the LLC. When Amy sells her 1/3 interest for $100,000 the partnership has a liability of $9,000. Amy’s amount realized would be $103,000 ($100,000 + ($9,000 x 1/3).

Gain Realized

Generally, a partner selling his partnership interest recognizes capital gain or loss on the sale. The amount of the gain or loss recognized is the difference between the amount realized and the partner’s adjusted tax basis in his partnership interest.

Example 1 (from above)- Sale of Partnership interest with no debt:

Assume Amy’s basis was $40,000. Amy would realize a gain of $60,000 ($100,000 – $40,000).

Example 2 (from above) – Sale of partnership interest with partnership debt:

Amy’s basis was $23,000. Amy would realize a gain of $80,000 ($103,000 realized less $23,000 basis).

Character of Gain

Partnership taxation establishes the general rule that gain on sale a partnership interest receives favorable capital gain treatment.  However, gains attributable to so-called “hot assets,” which include inventory, depreciation recapture, and accounts receivable of a cash basis partnership are taxed at less favorable ordinary income rates.

To the extent that a sale is attributable to the selling partner’s share of the hot assets, the resulting gain or loss is taxed at ordinary income rates. When real estate is sold to the extent the gain on sale is attributable to depreciation deductions, the resulting gain is treated as unrecaptured IRC §1250 section gain. §1250 gain is taxed at a flat 25% rate.

Like-Kind Exchange

It is important to note that in IRC §1031 (like-kind exchange), non-recognition treatment does not apply to exchanges of partnership interests.

We’ve Got Your Back

If you’re selling your partnership interest, we can help you plan the sale so that you pay no more tax than necessary. Contact Simon Filip, the Real Estate Tax Guy, at [email protected] or 201.655.7411 today.