It's that time of year again and I can tell people are starting to do their taxes by the level of emails I receive with tax questions regarding real estate. There are so many ways to skin this tax cat, that I felt it best to let the professionals handle your calls. Thus, I've sifted through several search engine pages to point out some pages and sites worth your click to get you headed in the right direction for answering those questions on investment, vacation or personal properties.
Below are resources divided by topic and real estate type. You'll find links that I have found beneficial, rather than just the links that wound up at the top of the search engine page. Let's begin.
The best site for all your real estate tax questions is IRS.gov – the official web site of the Internal Revenue Service. In particular this year, I found a page that was very beneficial: Frequently Asked Questions regarding deductions for your house.
There are questions on topics like, flooding, deductions for second mortgages, home equity loans, etc. If you need deeper reading for your particular issue, you may want to check out the online publications listed below:
- First-time homeowners (IRS Publication 530)
- Selling your house (IRS Publication 523)
- Business use of your home (Publication 587)
- Moving expenses (Publication 521)
- Home mortgage interest deductions (Publication 936)
- Giving away real estate (Form 8283)
Nolo.com is a great legal website that I visit quite frequently. Its Top 10 Tax Deductions article should fill you in on the best ways to garner tax benefits from your home, including:
- Mortgage Interest
- Equity loan interest
- Home improvement loan interest
- Property taxes
- Home office deduction
- Selling costs and capital improvements
- Capital gains exclusion
- Moving costs
- Mortgage tax credit
If you own a vacation home, then click on over to SmartMoney's guide on how to report taxes on the beach house. The web page talks about the various ways you use the house, i.e., Use a lot, rent a lot; use a lot, rent a little; use a little, rent a lot, etc., etc.
For investors with rental properties, visit Jackson Hewitt Tax Service's piece on tax concerns for rental properties.
The site includes answers to various questions, including:
- What is and is not considered rental income?
- What expenses can be deducted?
- What to look out for as an investor?
Some folks want to donate real estate rather than sell it. There are varying tax benefits and responsibilities when real estate is given to non-profits and/or individuals. Begin with the IRS information here.
For donations of real estate, one of the best explanations of real estate gifts I've seen published is at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' guide to estate gifts, found here.
The site answers questions, such as:
- What typical donors of real estate have in common?
- Ways to make a gift of real estate
- Tax Rules for Gifts of Real Estate
- Using a qualified appraisal to valuate the property, and more.
- If you're facing losses and financial struggles do to the hurricanes of 2005 – the IRS has some help for you. "The Internal Revenue Service is working to provide appropriate relief and assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. If you are a hurricane victim and need help with tax matters, please call 1-866-562-5227," according to the IRS's announcement of its new publication specially for hurricane victims.
- Publication 4492 explains the tax law changes and relief provisions available to individual and business victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. It's located at the following web page: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4492.pdf
- KFindLaw.com's guide to Estate and Gift Taxes, answers questions such as:
- Will my estate have to pay taxes after I die?
- What are the rates for federal estate taxes?
- Are there ways to avoid federal estate taxes?
- Can't I just give all my property away before I die and avoid estate taxes?
- Do some states impose death taxes?
- Can I avoid paying state death taxes
It's a valuable resource for those facing estate and gift issues for 2005.
International Real Estate Directory's Guide to Property Taxes provides a state-by-state, linked map providing the clicker access to as many real estate property tax sites that have been documented by this august web site. For instance, click the state of Texas and you'll have links to scores of county appraisal district web sites and their databases. Some states have plenty of information, while others have none. In addition, the directory includes links to sites around the globe.
Another source of online Public Records is at netronline.com, the site for Nationwide Environmental Title Research, LLC, which creates databases for sale to consumers. In addition, it has a very complete (and free) directory set up of public records located on the web.
The internet is loaded with "knowledge" about real estate investments and taxes -- hopefully you'll use the above sites to sift through the hype and come up with the nuggets of wisdom.
Published: February 3, 2006
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