This might sound too good to be true, but there’s an IRS loophole that allows you to use your house to rake in cash without paying income tax on the money. If you strategize, your house can become a cash cow.
These riches lie in an IRS home rental rule known as “minimal rental use.” It states that you can rent out your personal residence for 14 days or less each year without having to pay taxes or even report that income on your taxes. While the tax code puts a limit on days, it doesn’t cap the amount you can earn.
Here are some ways you might cash in on this IRS rule in a big way:
- Rent out your home for special events. This is probably the easiest way to maximize your tax-free cash since most cities and towns host some big event. Think big college football games, pro golf tournaments and political conventions in your town. These are good times to make your extra room or home available on sites like Airbnb.
- Offer your place for private parties and corporate events. Renting your space for a wedding or corporate event could put between $5,000 and $30,000 in your pocket, according to event venue site Venuelust. However, note that the IRS rules apply only to renting a “dwelling,” said Miguel Centeno, managing partner at Shared Economy Tax, a firm that specializes in clients who work in the shared economy. “So, for example, if there’s a wedding that is outdoors on the grounds only and there’s no use of the home, different rules may apply,” he said. In cases like these, check with a tax professional to be sure.
- Book your place for movie, TV or catalog shoots. In some areas, you can maximize your payday by renting your home for filming of a movie or TV series. This can bring in $2,000 or more per day.
One example: Dana Lam, who runs a relationship coaching company, lived in a three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse in an upscale area in Phoenix. During the 2015 Super Bowl, she rented her townhouse to Seattle Seahawks fans who paid her over $2,000 for a three-night stay. They also paid for Lam to stay at a hotel in the suburbs.
Looking back, she probably could have charged more than the $700 per night she got since a “really scary Days Inn” was charging $600 per night during the event. “I probably could have made $5,000,” she said.
Sadie Cornelius, marketing director for the travel site Exploring Life’s Mysteries, rented out her two-bedroom condo in an up-and-coming Washington, DC neighborhood during Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“It was booked within one second of the listing going live,” she said.
She and her husband used the cash to book a five-day beach vacation to Tulum, Mexico.
“We did yoga on the beach, hiked Mayan ruins and swam in cenotes,” she said. “We wanted to go someplace to relax and take our mind off the changing of the administration in DC.”
Want to cash in too? Here are six tips for renting out your home for a big event:
1. Choose the Right Site For Your Listing.
Each site has pros and cons, so do your homework. On her site, Cornelius offers a comparison of vacation rental listing sites, including Airbnb and others.
2. Know the IRS Short-term Rental Rules.
If you’re renting your home for 14 days or less, meaning you get to keep the income tax free, you’re not allowed to deduct associated expenses on your taxes, Centeno said. So costs like house cleaning after guests leave come out of your pocket.
3. Check on Local Short-term Rental Rules.
Check with your city to see what, if any, local short-term rental rules you need to follow. While you might not owe Uncle Sam, you may be responsible for collecting and paying a tax known as Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on short-term rentals.
4. Make Sure You’re Covered.
Verify that you’ve got the proper insurance for a temporary home rental. Check with your home insurance agent or company to see if your policy covers short-term rentals. If you’re listing your home on a site like Airbnb or HomeAway, find out what coverage, if any, comes with the listing.
5. Put It in Writing.
Draw up a written contract that spells out details, such as the name of renter and everyone else who will stay in your home, rental rules and amount. Have an attorney review your contract.
6. Do Your Homework on Rates.
Price shop local hotels to see what they plan to charge during the event, Lam recommends. Then compare your place to the hotel. Do you have more bedrooms or a better location? If your home is in walking distance to the event venue, you can charge “top dollar,” according to Homeaway.
Follow these steps and you, too, could be jetting off on a tropical vacation funded with tax-free money. And if you need a safe place to stash your valuables while your guests are on-site, don’t forget SpareFoot can help you find a storage service for your stuff.