For those of you who own multiple properties – vacation homes, lake homes, second homes, rental properties – real estate taxes can become an issue. Here is a brief discussion on real estate taxes to take to your tax accountant or attorney when you prepare for this years taxes:

 

Are there any income tax benefits to owning multiple homes in the U.S.?

Extra residences are not often a huge benefit or tax haven for investments, according to William Kambas, a partner at Withers, an international law firm with offices around the world.

Property taxes are due on each property, but owners can save when filing their federal income taxes. For starters, state and local property taxes on second homes are still deductible from one’s federal income returns, according to Mark Stone, a partner at New York City-based firm Holland & Knight.

The same goes for mortgages, although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited both of these. (The tax changes are in effect for the period between Dec. 31, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2025, although Congress is considering making them permanent.)

That means $10,000 of one’s combined property taxes for all residences is deductible, he said. However, keep in mind that state and local income taxes are also included in that bucket. And up to $750,000 in mortgage interest, again, for one an owner’s principal residence and one additional residence is also deductible.

For rental properties, there are additional tax benefits, Mr. Kambas said. To qualify, the home must be rented out for more than 14 days a year, or 10% of the total days it is rented, whichever is greater. So if an owner spends 30 days a year at a residence, he or she must rent it for 300 days or more to qualify for the deductions, according the IRS.

Then, “the expenses of doing business will be deductible,” he said. That includes travel to do work on the home or to show it, costs of advertising the property and other activities that benefit the business.

Maintenance, cleaning, professional fees and insurance, utilities and common charges are also deductible, Mr. Kambas added.

If owners are operating multiple homes as a business, they are likely eligible for a 20% qualified business income deduction. The company needs to be set up as a sole proprietorship or through a limited liability company, partnership, S corporation, trust or estate, according to the IRS.

LLCs are most commonly used by real estate investors. Those businesses do not pay income taxes; the tax is instead passed through to the owner or owners of the company. For individuals with less than $157,500 of income (or less than $315,000 of income for couples), there is a 20% deduction. So the owner ends up only being taxed on 80% of the income from that business.

For those with a higher income, the taxes are a bit more complicated. Individuals making more than $207,500 ($415,000 for couples), can deduct either the lesser of 20% of the qualified business income, or the greater of 50% of the W-2 wages paid from the business; or 25% of the W-2 wages paid from the business, plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of the qualified property, according to the IRS.

Either way, the owner is taxed at his or her individual rate, not the corporate rate.

Many real estate investors buy property under an LLC for that reason, but Mr. Kambas warned that it is a “highly scrutinized area by the IRS.”

 

Article originally published by Mansion Global 2018.