Renting out your primary residence? If it’s less than 15 days, it’s tax free
If you receive rental income for the use of a dwelling unit, such as a house or an apartment, you may deduct certain expenses. These expenses, which may include mortgage interest, real estate taxes, casualty losses, maintenance, utilities, insurance, and depreciation, will reduce the amount of rental income that’s subject to tax.
If you’re renting to make a profit and don’t use the dwelling unit as a residence, then your deductible rental expenses may be more than your gross rental income. Your rental losses, however, generally will be limited by the “at-risk” rules and/or the passive activity loss rules.
If you rent a dwelling unit to others that you also use as a residence, limitations may apply to the rental expenses you can deduct. You’re considered to use a dwelling unit as a residence if you use it for personal purposes during the tax year for more than the greater of:
- 14 days, or
- 10% of the total days you rent it to others at a fair rental price.
It’s possible that you’ll use more than one dwelling unit as a residence during the year. For example, if you live in your main home for 11 months, your home is a dwelling unit used as a residence. If you live in your vacation home for the other 30 days of the year, your vacation home is also a dwelling unit used as a residence unless you rent your vacation home to others at a fair rental value for 300 or more days during the year.
A day of personal use of a dwelling unit is any day that it’s used by:
- You or any other person who has an interest in it, unless you rent your interest to another owner as his or her main home and the other owner pays a fair rental price under a shared equity financing agreement
- A member of your family or of a family of any other person who has an interest in it, unless the family member uses it as his or her main home and pays a fair rental price
- Anyone under an agreement that lets you use some other dwelling unit
- Anyone at less than fair rental price
If you use the dwelling unit for both rental and personal purposes, you generally must divide your total expenses between the rental use and the personal use based on the number of days used for each purpose. You won’t be able to deduct your rental expense in excess of the gross rental income limitation (your gross rental income less the rental portion of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and casualty losses, and rental expenses like realtors’ fees and advertising costs). However, you may be able to carry forward some of these rental expenses to the next year, subject to the gross rental income limitation for that year. If you itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, you may still be able to deduct your personal portion of mortgage interest, property taxes, and casualty losses on that schedule.
There’s a special rule if you use a dwelling unit as a residence and rent it for fewer than 15 days. In this case, don’t report any of the rental income and don’t deduct any expenses as rental expenses.
Another special rule applies if you rent part of your home to your employer and provide services for your employer in that rented space. In this case, report the rental income. You can deduct mortgage interest, qualified mortgage insurance premiums, real estate taxes, and personal casualty losses for the rented part, subject to any limitations, but don’t deduct any business expenses. For information on these limits, refer to Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home (Including Use by Daycare Providers).
If you have a rental income, you may be subject to the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). For more information, refer to Topic 559.
For more information on offering residential property for rent, refer to Publication 527, Residential Rental Property (Including Rental of Vacation Homes).