Tax Implications of Renting Your Vacation Home


Getting the Best Use from Your Vacation Home

Despite the uptick in interest rates, an improved economy and home quality by aquiring the required loans may lead to a resurgence of interest in vacation or second homes. These properties offer a chance to provide the family with a place to rest and relax at a reduced cost when compared to expensive short-term resort rentals, and at the same time give owners a shot at capital appreciation over the long term. They also offer a chance to earn some rental income when the owner or family members aren't using the property. We will  review today's tax rules that apply to vacation homes that are rented to others during the year.

Overview on Vacation Homes

The tax treatment of a vacation home depends on the mix of personal and rental use. If personal use of the home is extensive enough for it to be treated as used as a residence under Code Sec. 280A, deductions for the rental portion will be restricted by the vacation home rules in that provision, but deductions for the personal use portion won't be affected. Talk with a home conveyancer sydney if you need help transferring your property to another owner.

If there's enough rental use for the property to be treated as rental property, not as a personal residence, then:

  1. The owner's rent-related deductions will be restricted by the passive activity loss rules, not the vacation home rules, and
  2. Deductions for the personal use portion will be adversely affected.
Vacation Home Used as a Residence

A vacation home is treated as used as a residence during a tax year if personal use exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days the property is rented to others during the year at a fair rental.  Although the property is considered to be a residence, the owner still must treat the rental portion of the vacation home separately from the personal portion.

Rental portion -With an exception for limited rental use noted below, rentals are included in income on Schedule E, but may be offset with deductions for the rent-related portions of expenses such as utilities, maintenance, upkeep, mortgage interest, real estate taxes and insurance. The owner also may claim a depreciation deduction relating to the rental use. However, under Code Sec. 280A(c)(5), those types of deductions can't exceed rental income less:

    1. Other deductions related to the rental activity itself, such as advertising, broker's commissions, and cleaning fees paid by the owner after rental periods.

Observation:   One example of a deduction that fits into this category is the owner's costs to travel to his or her vacation home in connection with its rental. For example, the owner may have to drive out to the home to meet a prospective tenant, or arrange for the home to be cleaned up or repaired before the rental season begins, for the cleaning prices in Melbourne were already in a steady ascension, which would slowly also be reflected in this place. These types of expenses should be deductible (e.g., (54.5¢ per mile for business travel in 2018), along with other rental-related costs.

  1. Deductions (such as interest and real estate taxes) allocable to the rental use which would be deductible whether or not the vacation home was rented out.

Excess expenses are carried forward and may be used in a future year when there's additional rental income.

For any year in which the rules of Code Sec. 280A(c)(5) apply to a property, the passive loss rules don't apply. (Code Sec. 469(j)(10))

Personal portion  - The owner deducts on Schedule A the real estate taxes and mortgage interest allocable to personal use of the home. Because personal use exceeds the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days it is rented out during the year, the vacation home is treated as a qualified residence for purposes of the mortgage interest deduction. (Code Sec. 163(h)(4)(A)(i)(II)) Assuming the taxpayer doesn't own another vacation home and meets the other rules for deducting qualified residence interest, he or she can (subject to the limitations discussed below) deduct the personal-use portion of the year's mortgage interest.

Changes for residence interest

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, the limit on acquisition debt (debt that is secured by the taxpayer's principal home and/or a second home, or incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving the home) is reduced to $750,000 ($375,000 for a married taxpayer filing separately). The $1 million, pre-TCJA limit applies to acquisition debt incurred before Dec. 15, 2017, and to debt arising from refinancing pre-Dec. 15, 2017 acquisition debt, to the extent the debt resulting from the refinancing does not exceed the original debt amount. (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F))

Additionally, under the TCJA, for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, there's no deduction for interest on "home equity debt". The elimination of the deduction for interest on home equity debt applies regardless of when the home equity debt was incurred. (Code Sec. 163(h)(3)(F)) In IR 2018-32, IRS clarified that the TCJA suspended the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer's home that secures the loan.

Illustration.  In January 2018, Max obtained a $500,000 mortgage to buy a main home. The loan is secured by the main home. In June 2018, he takes out a $250,000 loan to buy a vacation home. The loan is secured by the vacation home. Because the total amount of both mortgages does not exceed $750,000, all of the interest paid on both mortgages is deductible. But if Max took out a $250,000 home equity loan on the main home to buy the vacation home, then the interest on the home equity loan would not be deductible.
Changes for property taxes

Under the TCJA, for tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017 and before Jan. 1, 2026, annual deductions for state and local taxes (including those paid on a vacation home) are limited to a maximum of $10,000. (Code Sec. 164(b)(6))

Allocating expenses.  IRS says that where a vacation home is treated as used as a residence, all expenses are apportioned between rental and personal use based on the number of days used for each purpose. (Prop Reg § 1.280A-3(d)(3)(iii) However, the Tax Court (Buchholz, TC Memo 1983-378), Ninth Circuit (Bolton v. Comm., (1982, CA9) 51 AFTR 2d 83-305), and Tenth Circuit (McKinney v. Comm., (1983, CA10) 52 AFTR 2d 83-6281) maintain that interest and taxes are allocated to rental use based on the ratio of actual rental days to total calendar days. All other expenses (e.g., utilities and maintenance) are allocated based on the ratio of rental days to total days of use.

Observation:  The approach used by the Courts mentioned above can yield bigger overall deductions for the vacation home owner. For example, if a home is rented three months a year and used by the owner for vacations for one month a year, IRS's allocation of interest and taxes is based on the period of actual occupancy (four months), and the amount of rental income against which other expenses can be deducted is reduced by ¾ of the interest and taxes. But if interest and taxes are allocated on the basis of an entire year (as permitted by the Tax Court, Ninth and Tenth Circuits), rental income is reduced by only ¼ of the interest and taxes (3 months divided by 12 months), with the other ¾ deductible as itemized deductions. The reduction in the rental expense to only ¼ of the total can then bring about a larger deduction of other rental expenses that would otherwise be disallowed under the Code Sec. 280A(c)(5) limitation.
Special rule for limited rental use

A taxpayer who rents out his or her vacation home for less than 15 days during the year doesn't report rental income and can't claim offsetting rent-related vacation home deductions. (Code Sec. 280A(g)) This one-of-a-kind tax break can be a windfall for those who own properties in prime vacation spots or in other sought-after areas (e.g., one near a prime sporting event) where even a few rental days can bring in substantial dollars.

Tax credit for residential energy efficient property installed in vacation home used as residence.

For property placed in service before 2022, an individual is allowed an annual nonrefundable personal tax credit under Code Sec. 25D for the purchase of certain residential energy efficient property. As applied to such property installed in a vacation or second home used as a residence, for property placed in service before Jan. 1, 2020, the credit is equal to the sum of 30% of the amount paid for:

  • Qualified solar electric property (i.e., property that uses solar power to generate electricity in a home);
  • Qualified solar water heating property (i.e., property to heat water for use in a home if at least half of the energy it uses is derived from the sun);
  • Qualified small wind energy property (wind turbine to generate electricity for a home); and
  • Qualified geothermal heat pump property (to heat water for use in a residence if at least half of the energy used is derived from the sun).

For property placed in service in 2020, the credit rate will be 26%; and for property placed in service in 2021, the credit rate will be 22%. (Code Sec. 25D(g))

The equipment must be installed in a dwelling unit that's located in the U.S. and used as the taxpayer's residence (Code Sec. 25D(d)) and can't be used to heat a swimming pool or hot tub. (Code Sec. 25D(e)(3))

The credit covers installation and labor costs (Code Sec. 25D(e)(1)) and includes sales tax. If the equipment is used less than 80% for nonbusiness purposes, only the expenses properly allocable to nonbusiness use are taken into account. (Code Sec. 25D(e)(7))