Monday, November 09, 2009

Review: Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide

Every landlord's tax deduction guide is a guide to tax deductions oriented towards a landlord. Of course, some people I know run their rental businesses on a cash basis and evade taxes that way, but I don't advocate doing that, since pissing off the IRS is a good way to lose a lot of money.

Once you've decided to run a legitimate (at least in the eyes of the IRS) business, there are several questions, including:
  • What does depreciation mean, and how do I take advantage of it?
  • If I upgrade the unit, do I get to write that off against income?
  • What if I'm renting out a room in a house, as opposed to the whole house?
  • What if I rent it below market to my cousin?

As you can see, any complication at all, and you need to start worrying about how the tax system works. In addition, by knowing what sort of items are deductible, and what aren't, you get to do better tax planning and increase your after-tax profits.

You expect tax books to be extremely boring, but this one was very well-written. It's still not as interesting as say, a Richard Morgan novel, but if you read it in small chunks everything is laid out clearly and you won't be bored. The only obvious flaw I can find is that they don't emphasize how fraught with danger the home office deduction is --- it is easily the biggest red flag the IRS looks for when seeking tax cheats, and if all you do is set aside a small portion of your home for it it is probably not worth putting up with the tax audits as a result.

All in all, this book is recommended if you're running a rental business --- I can see myself looking over it again in April as I file my taxes. And before you ask, yes, if you're running a rental business this book does qualify as a deduction.
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