Rental Income, Yeah or Nay?

By Randall Orser | Personal Income Tax

For sale sign, vectorMany people today are getting a mortgage helper, a rental suite in their home or a mother-in-law suite. Or are deciding to buy a rental property or properties to make some extra income. It can be a big decision and requires some thought about the tax implications, but also time, management and other implications. Do you have what it takes to be a landlord? Do you have the funds to finance the property if there are no renters? Is it an easily sellable property if you get into trouble? We’ll mostly talk about the tax implications.

Tax Implications

As with anything we do today, what are the tax implications is one thing we need to think about. If you rent out a part of your home, and earn income from doing so, then you may have to include those funds as income on your tax return. However, if you rent to an immediate relative, such as a parent or sibling, then you won’t have to include this in income, as you’re not dealing with them at arm’s length (used to describe a transaction between unrelated parties; each party acts in his or her own self-interest). You also won’t have to include in income, monies received from ‘homestay’ exchange students, as you’re being reimbursed for costs and not really renting.

You are allowed to deduct from rental income expenses used to earn that income, within reason. The amount you can deduct will depend on whether the rental property is part of your principal residence or a separate property. If it’s a separate property and you do not use it personally, then you can deduct 100% of the costs associated with renting it out. If it’s your principal residence, then you can deduct a percentage based on the square footage of the rental and the total square footage of your residence.

Some of the expenses you can deduct include:

  • Hydro
  • Gas
  • City Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Property Taxes
  • Mortgage/Loan Interest
  • Maintenance & repairs (includes landscaping)
  • Management & administrative fees (contracted out property manager)

One thing I don’t recommend is taking the capital cost allowance (depreciation) deduction. Yes, you get to deduct an expense from your rental income; however, this also reduces the book value of your property. When you go to sell your property you will incur a capital gain based on the value of the property when you bought, plus any additions you added along the way, and the value at the time of sale. If you’ve been deducting CCA then the book value is much less and now your gain is that much more. If you’re renting out part of your principal residence, then CCA only affects the portion you’re renting out not the whole home. In the end, this deduction is not worth it.

Rental income can be a great way to make extra income, help pay for your existing home, or maybe even become a ‘Donald Trump’ type (perhaps with less attitude). You just have to realize that it’s as much a business as opening up a restaurant, etc. You need to think about what you’re doing, and whether or not you can really handle being a Landlord and deal with the tax implications.

About the Author

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Number Crunchers® Financial Services

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