The Section 199A 20 percent tax deduction is a gift from lawmakers. Literally, you don’t earn this deduction; it’s simply there for you if you qualify.
Under the trade or business rule, your rental property profits can create the deduction.
And now, under an alternative rule, you can use the newly created IRS safe harbor to make your rentals qualify for the deduction.
When you meet the new safe-harbor rules, the IRS deems your rental a trade or business with net rental profits that are qualified business income (QBI) for the Section 199A tax deduction.
But you may not want to use the safe-harbor rules, because they contain some onerous provisions. Also, you may not qualify to use the safe harbor. No problem. You can simply use the second method and win your 199A tax deduction using the existing trade or business tax law rules.
Under the new Section 199A rental real estate safe harbor (and only for this Section 199A safe harbor), each of your rental real estate properties individually or as a group (if you so choose) falls into one of the following categories:
Grouping rule. You (or your pass-through entity) must either:
Example. Fred has 10 rentals; eight are residential, and two are commercial. None are triple net lease. With grouping, Fred has two enterprises: one residential and one commercial.
With grouping of the residential and no grouping of the commercial, Fred has three enterprises: residential, commercial 1, and commercial 2.
(Reminder: You don’t have to use the safe-harbor rules for your rental properties. You can use the historical trade or business rules.)
Solely for Section 199A purposes, the IRS will treat your rental real estate enterprise as a trade or business if you (or your pass-through entity) can satisfy the following requirements:
Qualifying defined “rental services” can be done by you, your employees, your agents, and/or your independent contractors. Such services include:
Rental services that do not qualify for the safe harbor include:
Reminder. The safe-harbor rules above are solely for Section 199A purposes.
Beware. The passive-activity rules for material participation and status as a real estate professional contain many differences from what you see for the Section 199A tax deduction.
Time log. Your number-one important record for obtaining hassle-free tax deductions on your rental real estate is an accurate and provable time log. If you are using the new Section 199A safe harbor, you now have one additional reason to track time spent.
Nonqualifying Real Estate
Triple net lease property does not qualify for the safe harbor. Remember, the safe harbor is not the only method you can use to qualify your rental real estate for the Section 199A tax deduction.
Also, you may not use the safe harbor on real estate that you use as a residence. If you have a vacation home, Section 280A makes that vacation home either a rental property or a residence.
Safe Harbor—No 1099 Issues
If you use the safe harbor, your rental is a business regardless of whether you send 1099s to service providers.
In its preamble to the final Section 199A regulations, the IRS notes that the law requires a trade or business to send 1099s to certain service providers.
You may not find it easy getting to the safe harbor. But remember, once you are inside the safe harbor, you have the comfort of knowing that your rental properties are business properties for the possible 20 percent tax deduction under Section 199A.
Now, because of the safe harbor, you have a choice:
And remember, once you are inside the safe harbor, the fact that you did or did not issue 1099s to your service providers is moot for purposes of the Section 199A tax deduction.
If you would like to discuss how your rental properties fit with the new Section 199A tax deduction, please do not hesitate to reach out to your team at Luster Tax Consulting to work through this with you. Please use the following link to book your complimentary strategy call with your team at Luster Tax Consulting.
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