Do I Have to Pay Taxes for the Money I Make on Airbnb?

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Q. I rent my apartment using AirBnb. Do I need to report this rent as income? And if I do, can I take extra deductions because it’s a rental situation?
— Sometimes landlord

A. Here’s the lowdown on rental income.

Income received from the rental of your personal residence generally is subject to federal income tax, said Howard Hook, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with EKS Associates in Princeton, New Jersey.

He said rental expenses can be deducted against the rental income, but must be allocated by the number of days the home is for personal use and the number of days the property is rented.

Hook offered this example: If you rent your primary residence for 36 days during the year, you can deduct 10% of the electric bill (36/365 days) against the rental income.

“Your rental expenses cannot exceed the gross rental income reduced by the rental portion of the mortgage interest, real estate taxes, casualty losses, advertising and realtor commissions,” Hook said. “Expenses such as electric, as well as gas, home insurance, landscaping, etc. which would otherwise not be deductible are deductible for the days the property is rented.”

Finally, Hook said, there is an IRS rule that if you rent your personal residence for less than 15 days during the year that you do not have to report the rental income. But in that case, you can’t deduct the rental expenses.

(Editor’s note: If you are interested in buying a house for rental income or otherwise, it’s important to know how much mortgage you can afford. You can start by pulling your credit reports and credit scores. You can get your credit reports for free once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and you can monitor your credit score using a free tool like Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card. You can also use Credit.com’s mortgage calculator to determine how much a particular home might cost you.)

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Image: Jean-philippe WALLET

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