Navigating taxes on rental income (2023)

Owning real estate comes with tax responsibilities. In fact, if you own rental property, you’ll find that you have additional tax tasks. Specifically, the IRS requires that you report all rental income on your tax return, as well as the associated expenses.

Whether you’re renting one property or many, we’ve detailed what you should know about reporting rental income on your tax return, including the rental income tax rate, important rental income tax forms, and general tips for claiming rental income on taxes.

What qualifies as rental income?

First, let’s define what counts as rental income. Essentially, it’s any payment you receive for the use or occupation of property that you own. You’re responsible for reporting rental property income on your tax return for all your properties.

Navigating taxes on rental income (1)

Rental income includes:

  • Advance rental payments
  • Current payments
  • Late payments
  • Expenses paid by tenants

Payments you receive for lease cancellation and forfeited security deposits are rental income. They’re income for the year:

  • The lease is canceled
  • The security deposit is forfeited

What’s the rental income tax rate?

Curious what the rental income tax rate is? Well, there’s no one set rate for taxing rental income. Rental income is taxed as ordinary income – using progressive tax brackets, which range from 10 to 37%, depending on your filing status and taxable income. Taxing rental income also requires special tax forms, which we’ll outline next.

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Important rental income tax forms to know about

If you rent real estate, you’ll want to be familiar with a few rental income related tax forms. Some of these will show the rental income you received or payment for services. Others will be used to report all of your income (including your rental income). We’ll cover that in the next section.

1099 for rental income

There are three types of 1099 rental income related forms. We’ll outline them by situation:

Reporting rental income on your tax return

Typically, the rental income tax forms you’ll use to report your rental income include: Form 1040 or 1040-SR, Schedule E.

Here are the steps you’ll take for claiming rental income on taxes:

  1. List your total income, expenses, and depreciation for each rental property on Schedule E.
  2. Read the Instructions for Form 4562 to figure your depreciation amount. Enter this number on line 18 of Schedule E.
  3. If you have three or more rental properties, attach a Schedule E for each of your properties. On line 1a for each property, include the street address for each property.
    • Fill in the “Totals” column, lines on only one Schedule E. This should be the aggregate total for all rental properties.

Rental property loss and at-risk rules for rental property

Passive loss

Rental income is considered passive income for the passive-loss rules limitation. One of the exceptions is for qualified real estate professionals. If your rental income is more than your expenses, you’ll report the income. However, if your rental income is less than your expenses, you must consult special rules. These rules tell you if you can take the loss against other income.

Limited loss

If rental expenses exceed rental income, or your rental property is partially used for personal use, your loss could be limited. The amount of loss you can deduct may be limited by the passive activity loss rules and the at-risk rules. Tax Form 8582, Passive Activity Loss Limitations, Form 6198, At-Risk Limitations, and Publication 527, Residential Rental Property offer more information on limited loss.

Passive-loss rules

Rental real estate often creates a loss since it has large depreciation deductions and cash expenses, like:

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  • Mortgage interest
  • Insurance
  • Taxes

You can calculate your losses this way:

Passive activity deduction – passive activity gross income = passive activity loss

The passive-loss rules determine if you can take the loss against other income. If you can’t, you have to carry over the loss into another year, offsetting that year’s passive income.

Usually, you can’t deduct passive losses from non-passive income, like wages. You might have several sources of passive income, like multiple rental houses. If so, you can deduct the loss from them if the income covers it. If it does not, any excess loss is carried over to later years.

Special loss allowance

You can claim a special loss allowance for rental real estate activities that fall outside the general rule. This means you can take up to $25,000 in losses against non-passive income. You must be an active participant in the activity to qualify.

There’s an exception to this rule. If you’re married filing separately, the amount is either:

  • $12,500 if you didn’t live together
  • $0 if you lived together in the year

Active participants are those involved in managing the property. This means you do things like:

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  • Approve new tenants
  • Handle leases
  • Make decisions about property maintenance
  • Your involvement must be significant and bona fide.

If your income goes up, the ability to take the special loss allowance can phase out. This happens if your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is more than:

  • $100,000
  • $50,000 if you’re married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse all year

At-risk rules

At-risk refers to what you’ve invested in a particular activity. For rental activities, you’re usually at risk for the:

  • Adjusted basis of real properties
  • Certain amounts you’ve borrowed
  • Cash you’ve invested in the activity

Under the at-risk rules, your losses are limited to amounts you have at risk.

Common questions associated with reporting rental income

1 – “Can you deduct rental expenses on your taxes?”

Yes, you can deduct your expenses in the year you pay them. You can deduct these — and other less common — expenses for your rental property:

  • Advertising
  • Auto and travel
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Commissions
  • Insurance
  • Legal and other professional fees
  • Mortgage interest paid to banks and other financial institutions — They must be secured by the rental property.
  • Repairs
  • Real property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Depreciation expense
  • Other expenses specific to your rental — Ex: condo fees or landscaping expenses

2 – “What should I do if I rent a former main home?”

If you convert your main home to rental property, you don’t need to apply the vacation home rules, which we discuss below. This is true if you intend to keep the property exclusively for rental use. Once converted, don’t count days of personal use before the conversion date if either of these applies:

  • You rented or tried to rent the property for at least 12 consecutive months.
  • You rented or tried to rent the property for a period of fewer than 12 consecutive months. This applies if the period ended because you sold or exchanged the home.

However, this special rule doesn’t apply when you’re dividing expenses between rental and personal use.

Depreciation of converted rental property follows special rules. When you convert property from personal to business use, the basis for depreciation is the smaller of these:

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  • Adjusted basis on the date of conversion — most common
  • Fair market value (FMV) on date of conversion — usually applies when property values are dropping

To figure how much depreciation you can claim, calculate the basis of the property. The basis is usually how much you paid for the property. However, a part of that price applies to the land. You can only depreciate the rental home itself, not the land.

To figure how much the land is worth, get an appraisal of the property. The appraisal should separately state the FMV of the land and the building. You can estimate the value of the land based on the tax assessment statement for the year of conversion. Also, a local real estate firm might give you guidance on land values at the time you bought the land and on the conversion date.

3 – “What are the tax rules associated with vacation home rentals?”

There are a few key rules related to vacation home rentals.

  1. You might own a home that you live in part of the year and rent out part of the year. If so, you’ll prorate the expenses you incur between personal and rental use. To figure the ratio of personal and rental use:
  • Figure the total days of use by adding together personal days and rental days for the year.
  • Divide the number of days the home was rented by the total days of use.
  • Since vacation homes usually get this kind of treatment, the rules are known as the vacation home rules.
  1. Another related rule is the nontaxable rental – when you rent out a personal home for less than 15 days a year. Your rental income is not taxable and your rental expenses are not deductible. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are still deductible, but you will use Schedule A instead of Schedule E.
  2. You might also be eligible for certain deductions, such as themortgage interest deduction. Additionally, if you travel to check on the house, or you go there to collect the rent, you might be able to deduct vehicle expenses.
  3. You might not use the rental property personally. If so, you don’t need to prorate your expenses between personal and rental use.

Get help with rental income taxes

As you might imagine, you’ll need to track several details for your rental income tax reporting.

If you’re curious about how to add rental income to taxes to your return, there is tax software for rental income available. In fact, H&R Block Online and H&R Block Premium Tax Software, can help you manage your rental income tax reporting requirements as well as the rest of your tax filing.

Prefer the help of a tax pro? We’re here for you. Make an appointment with a tax pro today.


How much tax do I need to pay on my rental income? ›

You pay tax on your rental income at a rate of 20%.

What happens if you do not declare rental income? ›

What happens if I don't declare rental income? If HMRC suspects a landlord has been deliberately avoiding tax, it can reclaim 20 years' worth of tax payments. They can also impose fines up to the total value of any unpaid tax, as well as the underpaid tax.

How do you calculate rental income for self assessment? ›

How to calculate tax on rental income
  1. First, calculate your net profit or loss: Rental Income - Allowable Expenses = Rental Profit.
  2. Second, deduct your personal allowance: Rental Profit – Personal Allowance = Total Taxable Rental Profit. Allowances. 2021-2022. 2020-2021. ...
  3. Finally, calculate your tax rate for the current year.

Do I have to declare rental income if no profit? ›

No, as the rental income is exempt under the property allowance. However, you might need to complete a tax return if you do not want the property allowance to apply and to claim a loss to carry forward. You should contact HMRC to see if the tax on the rental profit can be collected via PAYE.

How do I avoid paying tax on rental income? ›

The good news is, you can reduce what you owe in income taxes on rental income by claiming deductions for depreciation and rental expenses, such as maintenance, upkeep and repairs. When you sell a rental property, you may owe capital gains tax on the sale.

Do I pay tax on rental income if I have a mortgage? ›

Landlords are no longer able to deduct mortgage interest from rental income to reduce the tax they pay. You'll now receive a tax credit based on 20% of the interest element of your mortgage payments. This rule change could mean that you'll pay a lot more in tax than you might have done before.

What expenses can landlords claim? ›

Allowable expenses for landlords explained
  • Office costs. Office costs include expenses like your phone, broadband bills, and office equipment. ...
  • Travel costs. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Fees to professionals. ...
  • Insurance. ...
  • Fees for services. ...
  • Repairs and replacements. ...
  • Property charges.
5 Jun 2022

Does rental income count as income? ›

You generally must include in your gross income all amounts you receive as rent. Rental income is any payment you receive for the use or occupation of property. Expenses of renting property can be deducted from your gross rental income. You generally deduct your rental expenses in the year you pay them.

Can you claim rental expenses without rental income? ›

The significance of this allocation is that you can deduct only expenses for passive activities against income from passive activities. Therefore, if you have no other passive income, you cannot deduct your rental expenses without any rental income.

How do I fill out a rental income tax return? ›

Table of contents
  1. Details of an individual taxpayer.
  2. Upload form 16 for income from salaries.
  3. Details of other income.
  4. Details of house property.
  5. Details of capital gains and business or profession.
  6. Details of tax deductions.
  7. Details of taxes paid and tax filing.
13 Jan 2022

How do I fill out a tax return for a rental property? ›

How to Fill out a Landlord Tax Return: Step-by-Step Guide
  1. Register With HMRC. The deadline for submitting online tax returns is 31 January for the previous tax year. ...
  2. Prepare Your Paperwork. ...
  3. Work out Your Income and Deductibles. ...
  4. Completing the Landlord Tax Return. ...
  5. How to Pay Your Landlord Tax Bill.
2 Mar 2021

How do you calculate gross rental income? ›

Gross Rent Multiplier = Property Price / Gross Rental Income. Gross Rental Income = Property Price / Gross Rent Multiplier.

What happens if my expenses are more than my rental income? ›

Your investment, including expenses, must be at risk. When your rental property expenses are more than income, you usually can't claim the loss since rental activities are passive activities. However, you can claim all or a portion of the loss if an exception to the passive activity loss rule applies.

How does IRS catch unreported rental income? ›

Ways the IRS can find out about rental income include routing tax audits, real estate paperwork and public records, and information from a whistleblower. Investors who don't report rental income may be subject to accuracy-related penalties, civil fraud penalties, and possible criminal charges.

Does rental income affect my tax bracket? ›

Any net income your rental property generates is taxable as ordinary income on your tax return. For example, if your net rental income is $10,000 for the year and you fall into the 22% tax bracket, you would owe $2,200 in taxes. That's the short version of how rental income tax works.

What is the maximum deduction for rental property? ›

The rental real estate loss allowance allows a deduction of up to $25,000 per year in losses from rental properties.

How long do you have to keep a property to avoid capital gains tax? ›

Where this is the case, the period of occupation as a main home is sheltered from capital gains tax, as is the final 18 months of ownership, regardless of whether the property is occupied as a main home for that final period.

Why is rent not tax deductible? ›

Are there any circumstances where you can deduct rent payment on your taxes? No, there are no circumstances where you can deduct rent payments on your tax return. Rent is the amount of money you pay for the use of property that is not your own. Deducting rent on taxes is not permitted by the IRS.

How does HMRC know about rental income? ›

Your registration in the electoral register is carried out via your National Insurance number. Therefore, it is quite easy for HMRC to find out about your property (ies) via the electoral register. Several landlords seek the services of estate agents to manage their property (ies).

How is tax calculated on rent received? ›

Tax on Rental Income. The Annual Taxable Value of the property is calculated by deducting municipal taxes paid, and deduction u/s 24 from the actual rent received/receivable/deemed rent. Under section 24, two deductions are available: Standard deduction of 30% of the value arrived after deducting taxes from the rent.

How much rental income is tax free in UK? ›

The first £1,000 of your income from property rental is tax-free. This is your 'property allowance'. Contact HMRC if your income from property rental is between £1,000 and £2,500 a year.

Does rental income count as income? ›

You generally must include in your gross income all amounts you receive as rent. Rental income is any payment you receive for the use or occupation of property. Expenses of renting property can be deducted from your gross rental income. You generally deduct your rental expenses in the year you pay them.


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