Skip to Content

Depreciation De-Mystified: An Introduction to Rental Property Depreciation

Dollar Bill Origami of a HouseOne of the welcomed financial benefits of investing in rental properties comes at tax time when investors get to deduct not only operating expenses, property taxes, and so on, but also depreciation. This key tax deduction works differently from the others owing to the manner by which it is calculated and applied. Yet, failing to take a deduction for depreciation can result in numerous unpleasant ramifications in the future. In this regard, it’s critical for Horace rental property owners to really figure out what depreciation is and why, certainly, you should be deducting it on your taxes every year.

In the case of buying and improving rental properties, depreciation is the process used to deduct any associated costs. Rather than take one large deduction the year the property was purchased or improved, the IRS has mentioned that rental property owners should extend those kinds of deductions over the useful life of the property. Thus, rental property owners would be deducting a portion of their purchase and improvement costs (not operating or maintenance costs) each year for several years. This can seriously reduce the sum total of taxable rental income you can declare on your tax return, totally making depreciation worth the time it takes to calculate.

A property owner should begin taking depreciation deductions as soon as the rental property is placed in service, or simply put, operative as a rental. This, specifically, is a positive aspect for property owners who may sustain a vacancy instantly after acquisition or during renovations. How long you will be able to gain that depreciation relies both on how long you own and use the property as a rental, and which depreciation method you use.

There are different depreciation methods that determine the amount you can deduct each year. Though the most common one for residential rental properties is the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Mostly, MACRS is to be made use of for any particular residential rental property placed in service after 1986. In this process, the cash outlays for securing and restoring a rental property are spread out over 27.5 years, expressly what the IRS considers to be the “useful life” of a rental house.

To realize at what extent your depreciation ought to be each year, you must be able to know exactly what your basis in the property is or the amount you paid for it. You’ll, possibly, be able to include some of your settlement fees, legal fees, title insurance, and other costs paid at the settlement. The most complicated detail of this number is that you’ll be required to separate the cost of the land from the building since only the rental house itself – and not the land it is built on – can be depreciated. In many cases, you are permitted to use property tax values to help you figure out how big of the purchase price should have to be given to the house, or your accountant might elect to use a standard percentage.

Immediately when you have a total just for the rental house, you’ll need to move one more step forward and figure out your adjusted basis. A basis in a rental property may be an added account for things like major improvements or additions, money spent restoring extensive damage, or the cost of connecting the property to local utility service providers. Basis can thus further decrease in the event of insurance payments you received to cover theft or damage and any casualty losses you took a deduction for already that were not covered by your insurance. With the aid of your adjusted basis, you could actually now calculate the amount of depreciation you can deduct on your income tax return.

Depreciation of a rental property is a valuable tool for investors looking to reduce their annual tax obligation. Yet rental property tax laws can be complex and change quite a bit as time passes. Hence, it’s best to work with a qualified tax accountant to ensure that depreciation is, indeed, being calculated and applied correctly.

When you authorize Real Property Management Optimum to work on your behalf, we should be able to help connect you with accounting professionals who can perhaps assist you with your depreciation questions and more. Hiring our experts can help property owners make sure that there are no unpleasant surprises all throughout tax season. For additional details about our Horace property management services, contact us online or give us a call right away at 320-460-7474.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

The Neighborly Done Right Promise

The Neighborly Done Right Promise ® delivered by Real Property Management, a proud Neighborly company

When it comes to finding the right property manager for your investment property, you want to know that they stand behind their work and get the job done right – the first time. At Real Property Management we have the expertise, technology, and systems to manage your property the right way. We work hard to optimize your return on investment while preserving your asset and giving you peace of mind. Our highly trained and skilled team works hard so you can be sure your property's management will be Done Right.

Canada excluded. Services performed by independently owned and operated franchises.

See Full Details