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San Jose NRA tax attorney for rental incomeThe U.S. Tax Code is very complex, and taxpayers will often struggle to understand their tax obligations, their requirements for filing tax returns and other forms, and the steps they should take to avoid penalties. Nonresident aliens (NRAs), or those who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and do not maintain a substantial presence in the United States, may have certain tax obligations, including the requirement to pay taxes on income generated by rental properties. Failure to file the proper forms and pay taxes on this income may result in tax audits and penalties.

Tax Requirements for Rental Income From Real Property

When an NRA acquires real property in the United States, that person will usually not be required to file any forms with the IRS or pay taxes. However, there will be tax on any income earned through the rental of this property. The tax rate that applies to this income will depend on whether it is considered passive income (known as FDAP income) or effectively connected income (ECI) that is associated with a U.S. trade or business.

FDAP income is generally taxed at a rate of 30% of the gross amount of income earned by a rental property. These taxes will usually be withheld by a withholding agent (such as a property manager, renter, or lessee) who will send this amount to the IRS. ECI, on the other hand, is subject to graduated tax rates, and taxes apply to net income earned after deductions and expenses.

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What You Need to Know About Taxes When Renting a Residence Seasonally

San Jose, CA tax lawyer property rentalWebsites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway make it easier than ever to generate income by renting out a private residence, meeting the huge demand for home rentals, especially during the summer months when people go on vacation. However, the income collected from rental of a residence is typically subject to taxation, and there are special tax rules that must be followed. If you are a homeowner who plans to rent your property seasonally, you should be sure to understand whether your situation meets certain IRS requirements for taxation. 

Residential Rental Property Defined

The first step in determining how rental income will be taxed is understanding if the property you are renting is a residential rental property under the definition provided by the IRS. A dwelling will be classified as a residence if it is utilized for personal purposes during the tax year for 14 days, or for 10 percent of the total number of days the residence has been rented to tenants at its fair rental value, whichever is greater. Personal use could include the use of the dwelling by:

  • Anyone who owns a part of the dwelling;
  • Any family members of anyone who owns the property in whole or in part (unless the family member uses the dwelling as his or her primary residence and pays fair rental value to the owner);
  • Anyone who uses the property as part of an arrangement that allows the owner to use a different dwelling; or
  • Anyone who uses the property after receiving a discount that results in that person paying less than the property‚Äôs fair rental value.

Income, Deductions, and Other Considerations

According to the IRS, rental income includes regular and advance rent payments, penalties for lease cancellation, and expenses paid to the property owner by the renter. This income generally must be reported each year. 

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