6 Proven Steps for How to Report Rental Income

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Imagine you’re a new landlord, renting out your cozy apartment to tenants for the first time. You’re excited about the extra income and a bit nervous about handling the tax.

Don’t worry; we’re here to help! This blog post will guide you through how to report rental income, explore qualifying expenses, and record-keeping.

So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s embark on this journey together as we learn how to navigate the rental income reporting process and answer some common questions.


Key Takeaways

  • Rental income includes more than just normal rent payments. It also covers security deposits and advance rent. Remember to properly account for these payments and consider them part of your rental income. And remember to factor in any final payments from tenants, as these also count towards your rental income.
  • You can deduct many expenses related to your rental property. Keep track of expenses like mortgage interest, insurance, repairs, and maintenance, which can be deducted from your rental income. You can reduce taxable income and save money on your taxes.
  • If you rent out your property, any cash or the fair market value of property or services you receive for using real estate or personal property is taxable rental income.

What is Rental Income?

Rental income is the money you receive from tenants to rent a property, such as residential or commercial real estate.

It includes normal rent payments, advance rent (including security deposit), and a non-refundable deposit (if considered rental income by the IRS). This income is taxable and should be reported on your tax return as part of your total income.

When do you owe taxes on rental income?

When your tenants pay you to rent, the taxman comes knocking. Most of the time, the rent you collect is subject to federal income tax and sometimes state and local taxes.

Here’s a cool thing: you report the rental property income in the year you get it, even if the rent is for a different year. For instance, if your tenant paid January 2023 rent in December 2022, that rent goes on your 2022 tax return.

And if you get a deposit for the first and last month’s rent, it’s taxed as rental income in the year you receive it.

Oh, and if your tenant gives you something like a homemade cake instead of rent, you’ve got to report the cake’s value as this income on your return for that year.

Also, if the rent money is available to you, even if you haven’t touched it, you still need to report it. If your tenant puts their January rent check in your mailbox in December, you can’t just leave it there until January and pretend it’s not income for the current year.

You know as well as I do that running a rental property comes with its fair share of expenses. But did you know you can deduct rental expenses (operating expenses, real estate taxes, etc.) from your rental income, lowering your taxable income? Pretty good, right?

Let me share with you a list of common qualifying rental expenses from the IRS (Publication 527, Residential Rental Property) that might make your day a little brighter:

Types of Qualifying Rental Expenses

• Advertising

• Auto and travel expenses

• Cleaning and maintenance

• Commissions

• Depreciation

• Insurance

• Interest (other)

• Legal and other professional fees

• Local transportation expenses

• Management fees

• Mortgage interest paid to banks, etc.

• Points

• Rental payments

• Repairs

• Taxes

• Utilities

How to Report Rental Property Income?

Step 1: Grab your Form 1040 or 1040-SR

  • You’ll use this form to report income and expenses related to real estate rentals.

Step 2: Locate Schedule E, Part I

  • This is where you’ll list your total income, expenses, and depreciation for each rental property.

Step 3: Calculate depreciation

  • Check the Instructions for Form 4562 to determine how much depreciation to enter on line 18 of Schedule E.

Step 4: If you have more than three rental properties

  • Complete and attach as many Schedules E as needed to list all your properties.
  • Fill in the “Totals” column on only one Schedule E, which should be the combined totals of all Schedules E.

Step 5: Be aware of limitations.

  • If your rental expenses exceed rental income, your loss may be limited by passive activity loss rules and at-risk rules.
  • Review Form 8582 (Passive Activity Loss Limitations) and Form 6198 (At-Risk Limitations) to see if your loss is limited.

Step 6: Check for personal use limitations.

In Conclusion

Reporting rental income is a requirement and an intelligent way to maximize your earnings. With the right approach, you can easily navigate the tax reporting process and stay organized throughout the year.

To learn more about managing your rental properties, subscribe to our blog today! We’ll update you with the latest tips and tricks to help you succeed as a landlord.

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