Real Estate Accounting

What You Need to Know Before You Rent Your Vacation Home

Laguna BeachRenting out a second home can help defray the cost of owning and maintaining the property. And there may be valuable tax benefits from the rental arrangement as well. At Morey & Associates, an Orange County CPA firm, we understand the tax implications and can help you make the most of renting your vacation property.

Here are some things to think about if you are going to rent out a vacation property.

Two Week Rule

Your rental income won’t be taxable as long as you limit the number of rental days to 14 or fewer each year. In this situation, you won’t be able to deduct your rental expenses (other than property taxes and qualifying mortgage interest).

More Than 14 Rental Days

Once you exceed 14 rental days, all rental income becomes taxable to you. But you may deduct various rental expenses. There are different limits on rental deductions depending on your personal use of the home.

All expenses associated with renting out the property, such as utilities and maintenance, are potentially deductible if you limit personal use of the home to no more than the greater of (1) 10% of the total number of days the home is rented or (2) 14 days. However, if there’s a rental loss, the tax law’s passive activity rules may limit your loss deduction.
Where personal use exceeds the 10% or 14-day threshold, your tax deductions for rental expenses generally will be limited to the amount of rental income you collect. No loss is allowed.
To learn more about vacation homes and taxes, give us a call today at 949-759-5626. Our knowledgeable and trained staff is here to help from our two office locations in Newport Beach and San Clemente.

Are There Advantages to Owning a Second Home?

Whatever the location, size, or value of a second home, certain tax advantages are built in. However, your opportunity to benefit from them depends on how you use the property.

Personal Use

Both property taxes and mortgage interest are as deductible for a second home as they are for your primary residence — and are subject to the same limitations. If you file a joint return, you cannot deduct interest on more than $1 million of acquisition debt ($500,000 for married persons filing separately) on one or two homes.

Two tax advantages of home ownership are not available for a second home — the immediate deduction of mortgage points when purchasing and the capital gain exemption when selling. Both tax breaks require the home to be your “principal residence.” However, you can deduct the points on your second home’s mortgage over the loan’s term.

Rental Use

More tax advantages become available if you forgo some of your personal use in favor of renting out your second home for part of the year. But there may be drawbacks as well.

If you rent out your home for 14 or fewer days during the year, you do not have to report rental income on your tax return, regardless of the amount, and there is no effect on your mortgage interest deduction. But you cannot deduct any rental expenses.

If you rent out your property for more than 14 days during the year, all rental income becomes taxable from day one. However, rental-related ownership expenses — including depreciation, maintenance, and utilities — become tax deductible. Your personal use of the second home affects the deductible amount. When personal use is more than 14 days (or 10% of the number of days your home is rented, whichever is greater), the maximum deduction is 100% of the rental income. Note that allowing relatives to use your vacation home usually counts as personal use, regardless of how much they pay for the privilege. And, if a friend rents your home for less than the fair market rate, that also counts as personal use.

If your vacation home qualifies as a rental property (i.e., personal use doesn’t exceed the allowable limits), a deduction is allowed only for mortgage interest allocated to rental use. That could be important. If you were to rent your second home during July only, for example, then only 1/12 of your interest expense would be deductible.

Deducting Losses

What if your rental expenses exceed the rent you collect? Only an “active” investor can deduct rental losses. If you actively participate in managing the rentals and maintaining the property, you can apply up to $25,000 of losses each year against your regular income. This loss deduction is phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $150,000. But, if you hire a manager, you become a passive investor and can use rental expenses to offset only rental income. However, you can carry any excess deductions forward to future tax years.

Your use determines the tax treatment of a second home. Before you decide to rent your second home for more than 14 days a year, carefully weigh the benefits and disadvantages.

Deductible Yacht and Motor Home Financing

Your second home doesn’t have to sit on a fixed foundation to qualify for tax advantages.

According to the IRS, a facility qualifies as a residence if it has sleeping, cooking, and bathroom accommodations. Therefore, your yacht or smaller boat can be a second home. So can a motor home of any size or value.

Provided the boat or motor home secures the purchase loan, your mortgage interest s as deductible as it would be on a more conventional second home. The same $1 million limit on total debt to buy or improve your residences also applies.

For more help with individual or business taxes, connect with us today. Our Orange County CPA Accounting team can help you with all your tax issues, large and small.

Get a Tax Credit when You Install a Home Renewable Energy System

452801359Thinking about installing a renewable energy system in your residence? Uncle Sam offers individual taxpayers a federal income-tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of qualified residential energy-efficient property (REEP).

What Systems Qualify?

Credit-eligible property includes:

  • Solar electric
  • Solar water heating
  • Geothermal heat pump (uses ground or ground water as a thermal energy source for heating or cooling)
  • Small wind energy (generates electricity using a wind turbine)
  • Fuel cell (generates electricity from hydrogen and oxygen through an electrochemical process)
  • The credit covers the cost of both the equipment and its installation, including labor and any piping or wiring necessary to connect it to your home.

The system must meet specified standards for energy efficiency. You should obtain a certification from the manufacturer that the component you are purchasing meets the relevant requirements for the REEP credit. Note that the manufacturer’s certification is different from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star label; not all products with the Energy Star label meet the credit requirements.

When available, the tax credit is quite generous. For example, let’s say you spend $6,000 on year on a home solar water heating system that meets all requirements for the REEP tax credit. After considering the $1,800 credit ($6,000 × 30%), the system costs you only $4,200.

Restrictions

The home you are installing the equipment in must be located in the United States and you must use it as your residence. The credit is not available for equipment used to heat a swimming pool or hot tub.

Solar, geothermal, or wind energy property can qualify for the credit whether it is installed in your principal residence or another residence. The credit for fuel cell property is limited to equipment installed in your principal residence.

As for cost, the tax law generally places no dollar limits on the credit. However, there is an exception for fuel cell property: The maximum credit is $500 for each 0.5 kilowatt of capacity.

Some states and public utilities offer incentives to encourage the purchase of energy-efficient property. Certain types of incentives may require an adjustment to your purchase price or cost for credit calculation purposes.

Connect with our team today for all the latest and most current tax rules and regulations.

What are the Tax Ramifications of Selling Rental Real Estate?

the dealAs with any significant transaction, the sale of rental real estate will have income-tax consequences you’ll want to understand ahead of time. It’s good to have a real estate CPA on your side when navigating this sale.

Although much will depend on the details of your specific situation, here are some key concepts to keep in mind.

Gain or Loss?

Figuring gain or loss for tax purposes involves comparing the amount realized on the sale to your “adjusted basis” in the property. Generally, your adjusted basis is equal to the amount you paid for the property, plus the cost of any improvements you made and minus depreciation deductions.

The tax law requires you to net your gains and losses from the sale of rental and business property held longer than one year against each other. If the result is a net gain, it generally will be taxed as long-term capital gain, except to the extent that special rules regarding prior depreciation and losses can result in less favorable treatment. If the netting process results in a net loss, you may deduct it in full against your ordinary income.

Potential Tax Benefit

You may have losses from renting the property that you weren’t allowed to deduct in previous years because of the “passive loss” rules. Those suspended losses generally will be deductible in the year you sell your rental property.

Contact us today for more tips on selling rental real estate at our Orange County, CA CPA Firm. Or, call us today at 949-759-5626

What are the Tax Advantages of Being a Landlord?

Woman inspecting house interior
Owning rental property can bring in extra income, but it’s not without its downsides. If the furnace breaks or a pipe bursts, you can be sure you’ll get the call — sometimes in the middle of the night. But for all the hassles being a landlord can bring, there are some bright spots. One of them is the ability to deduct certain expenses from your total rental income on your tax return.

Owning a rental home, apartment, or other residential property may entitle you to take some or all of the following deductions.

House Calls

Real estate taxes and mortgage interest on rental property are potentially deductible, as are fire, flood, theft, and liability insurance premiums. Services, such as lawn care, performed on the rental property and any wages you pay employees in connection with the rental activity may be deductible as well.

Wanted: Tenants

You can deduct expenses associated with renting the property, including management fees, commissions, and cleaning and maintenance.

This Old House

The costs of repairs that keep the property in good condition, such as painting, are deductible in the year you incur them.

Cost Recovery

You generally can begin claiming deductions for depreciation on rental property in the year the property is ready and available for rent. In addition, you can recover the cost of improvements that add value to your property, such as replacing the roof or adding a deck, by claiming depreciation over time.

Over the River, Through the Woods

You may be able to deduct the expenses of traveling to your property when the main purpose of your visit is to collect rental income or to manage and maintain the property.

It’s important to keep complete and accurate records of all expenses related to your rental property. Keep in mind that there are tax law limits on deducting losses from rental activities.

Don’t deal with tax issues on your own. Call us right now at 949-759-5626 to find out how we can provide you with the answers you need. Or, learn more about our real estate CPA accounting services on our website.

Real Estate Gains – Property Exchange Can Defer Taxes

Commercial PropertyIf you are fortunate enough to own real estate that has appreciated substantially, you may be hesitant to sell the property and reinvest in another property because of the taxes you’d have to pay on your profit. Instead of selling, you might want to consider a “like-kind exchange.”

A like-kind exchange is a property swap. When all tax law requirements are met, a like-kind exchange allows you to defer your gain for tax purposes.

An Example

Pete exchanges a tract of land worth $500,000 for a building, also appraised at $500,000. He originally paid $300,000 for the land and he made no improvements to it. Because the deal is structured as a like-kind exchange, Pete’s $200,000 gain on the land ($500,000 value minus $300,000 cost) is tax deferred.

Tax deferred doesn’t mean tax free. For tax purposes, Pete’s cost basis in the building he acquired in the exchange is $300,000, the same as his cost basis in the land he gave up. So, if Pete were to turn around and sell the building for $500,000, he’d have to report a taxable gain of $200,000 at that time.

Which Assets Qualify?

The like-kind exchange strategy is available for investment property and property used in a trade or business. Real estate has to be exchanged for real estate, and personal property for personal property. Inventory and shares of stock aren’t eligible for like-kind exchange treatment, and various other restrictions apply.

Making a Deal

A like-kind exchange can be accomplished when properties are not of equal value. Typically, the owner of the less valuable property turns over enough cash (or other assets) to even out the exchange. Or one owner might agree to assume the other’s debt. Note that transactions involving cash, additional assets, and debt relief are not completely tax deferred.
Other variations on the basic like-kind exchange are possible. For example, it’s possible to structure an exchange that isn’t simultaneous. Or more than two property owners can be involved in the deal.

In the right situation, a like-kind exchange can be a significant tax-saving opportunity. We’d be happy to discuss it with you.

If you would like to learn more, call 949-759-5626 and ask for Jerry Morey.

 

Morey & Associates is a California CPA Firm providing real estate accounting throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Our founder has been licensed in California for over twenty years and we work with Real Estate Investement Trusts (REIT), Property Management companies, Real Estate Developers and Investment Groups, and Owner Operators.

Why Hire a Real Estate CPA Firm

Real Estate - O CtyThe real estate industry is very different from other industries, especially when it comes to accounting and tax issues.

The tax incentives for real estate are very different than other industries.  The timing of expenses, specialized services like cost segregation and 1031 exchanges, debt restructuring and tax deferral strategies can have huge consequences.  For instance, a real estate CPA firm can pull together these strategic pieces that will improve your bottom line that a local generalist can’t replicate.

Second, working with a CPA Firm that works with a wide variety of real estate clients enables them to add more value to your day-to-day business and key business decisions.  If warranted, they can bring specialized services to the table that a local generalist can’t possibly provide.  In other words, working with a CPA Firm that works with the right specialists reduces the risk of making business mistakes, missing key tax incentives, and add value immediately to you.

Third, having a small team of accountants that specializes in real estate accounting reduces your annual costs because their depth of knowledge on the subject matter is deeper and without having to charge you more.

As in any industry, there are economies of scale that can be gleaned by working with a specialist.  It is important to let specialists and experts handle matters that require additional expertise and can save you money.  A real estate business can benefit from specialized services when it comes to tax planning, capital spending, budgeting, accounting and estate planning.

And after you hire the best CPA Firm for your industry, you’ll soon realize how easy they make it appear on the surface.

If you would like to learn more, call 949-759-5626 and ask for Jerry Morey.

 

Morey & Associates is a California CPA Firm providing real estate accounting in Southern and Northern California.  Our founder has been licensed in California for over twenty years.

Net Operating Losses Provide Tax Benefits

Net Operating LossFor many businesses, profits vary from year to year. However, with proper planning, even a bad year can be helpful from a tax perspective. Where business deductions exceed gross income, a taxpayer may have a net operating loss (NOL) that can be used to offset income in another tax year, potentially generating a refund of previously paid taxes.

Who May Use an NOL?

NOLs are available to individual business owners, corporations, estates, and trusts. Partnerships and S corporations do not take NOL deductions, though their partners and shareholders may use “passed through” losses on their own returns.

How Is an NOL Applied?

The general rule is that a taxpayer may carry an NOL back two years and forward 20 years, though certain limited exceptions may apply. For example, an individual with an NOL that was caused by a casualty, theft, or disaster may use a three-year carryback period.

In general, the taxpayer will carry back an NOL to the earliest year it can be used and then carry it forward, year by year, until it is used up. The taxpayer may also elect to forego the two-year carryback and carry the loss forward for the 20-year period. However, the general preference is to use an NOL sooner rather than later because a dollar of tax saved today is generally worth more than a dollar saved in the future.

How Is an NOL Calculated?

Calculations of NOLs can be complicated. For example, a noncorporate taxpayer’s NOL is calculated without regard to any personal exemptions or NOLs from other years, and certain deductions for capital losses and nonbusiness items are limited.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, call 949-759-5626 and ask for Jerry Morey.  Lowering your taxes legally is our specialty.

Office Space Decisions for Small Business Owner

Office SpaceBuy or lease?

It’s a decision many Orange County businesses face. Owning real estate certainly can have advantages, including the opportunity to build equity. But many small businesses in need of space choose the rental route instead.

Cash Flow Considerations

By leasing, a company can avoid taking on debt to acquire a property. Less debt on the balance sheet may allow the company to finance other things, such as receivables or inventory and equipment purchases. And the upfront cash commitment needed to enter a lease agreement may be much lower than the down payment required for a property purchase.

Shopping Tips

If your business is looking around for the right rental location, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind. Not all of these tips are appropriate for all businesses, but some may help you get a lead on a good spot — and a good deal.

  • Find an eager landlord. Rental spots that have been on the market for a while could have some negative features, but they may be worth a look. If you find a location that suits you, you might also find a landlord who is anxious to negotiate.
  • Think about the term. A long-term lease locks in your rental rate — and that can be an advantage if you expect the market to trend upward. But leasing for short periods is often less expensive than leasing for longer periods. If your business is in its formative years, significant changes may lie ahead, so a short-term arrangement could be more practical, too. Adding an “option to renew” clause can help keep your costs down and your options open.
  • Divide and conquer. Could you make do with two smaller spaces instead of one large space? The more flexible you can be, the better your chances of finding a good deal.
  • Check rental comps. Commercial property markets can be very localized. Rents may vary considerably between one locality and another just a few miles away. Unless you’re limited to a specific location, compare rates in several areas.

At Morey & Associates, we help many of our small business clients with the office space decision and help them lower their overall taxes.  If you are struggling with this decision, simply call 949-759-5626 and ask for Jerry Morey.

 

Morey & Associates works with all types of small businesses throughout Orange County to minimize their taxes legally.  We provide additional expertise in real estate accounting, dental practice accounting and high net worth accounting.

Cost Segregation – Tax Reduction Strategy

Cost segregation is the process of identifying your assets and classifying those assets correctly for the purpose of paying federal taxes. In this process, personal assets that are mixed with real property assets are separated out, so all assets can be depreciated properly and potentially increase your bottom line.

Cost Seg2Cost Segregation Studies

A cost segregation study is performed to determine which assets can be claimed as personal property instead of real property. These items usually include indirect construction costs, non-structural elements of buildings, and exterior land improvements.

By separating these assets, they can be depreciated over a shorter term which will reduce your current income tax liabilities and increase cash flow. This decreased depreciation period is typically between five and fifteen years instead of the twenty-seven and a half to thirty-nine years for non-residential real property.

For example, items such as carpeting, wall paper, parts of the electrical system, and even sidewalks and landscaping all qualify for the shorter depreciation periods.

Eligibility and Advantages of Cost Segregation

To be eligible for cost segregation, a building must have been purchased, remodeled, or constructed since 1987. This method of tax reduction is best used on new construction, but it can be used retroactively on older buildings as well.

Beyond the benefits of reduced tax liability and increased cash flow, a cost segregation study will provide your business with an audit trail of all costs and asset classifications. This will help put to rest any unwanted inquiry from the IRS in its early stages. Finally, during this process, you may identify possible ways to reduce your real estate tax liabilities as well.

While there are some costs associated with performing a cost segregation study, as long as the assets in question are valued over $200K, it’s worth the time and expense to complete the study and categorize these assets correctly.

If you are tired of overpaying taxes, then call 949-759-5626 and ask for Jerry Morey.  Our initial consultation is free.

 

Morey & Associates is a Southern California CPA Firm with offices in Newport Beach and San Clemente CA.  We work with business owners throughout Orange County and Los Angeles.  Our specialty is real estate accounting.