Tax Checklist for Hosts Renting Their Home

Renting your home or a spare room on Airbnb, HomeAway, or VRBO can be a great way to earn some extra cash and supplement your income. If you take this route, you may not consider yourself a landlord, but for tax purposes, you are one. Here's a checklist to help you stay on top of the information you need to file your taxes.

You should maintain records on:

How many days you had guests staying

You will need to keep track of not only the income and expenses related to your hosting activity, but also how many days people stayed in your home. Days that your home was listed but had no one staying or you had canceled reservations, don't count. If you rented out your primary residence (as opposed to a rental property) for 14 days or less per year, you still have to report your rental income, but you don't actually pay tax on it.

The gross rents and fees you collected

This number is fairly simple to keep track of, but if you received any cash payments for parking, cleaning, etc., you need to include them in your income as well. Security deposits for damages are not considered income, unless you keep your guest's deposit because they broke a rule or damaged your property.

Expenses related to advertising your listing

This would include costs to maintain your own website as well as fees to list the property on Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO or an other related lodging websites.

Cleaning services and amenities

If you pay a cleaner, laundry service, or buy supplies specifically to make your guests comfortable (such as extra sheets and towels), you can deduct these items in full.

Utilities and other bills relative to how many days your guests stayed at your property

Calculate how many days your guests stayed and used your heat, water, Internet, and other related services. You can't deduct the personal use portion of these bills, but if you rented out your entire home, you can allocate expenses to the days they were used for hosting. If you specifically install a guest line in the rental area, you can deduct the cost in full.

Other allowable fees related to hosting

If you are charged penalties by the web platform because a guest booked your home but you were unavailable, this is a normal cost of doing business, and is deductible. However, if you ever are assessed fines by your local government, it is important to note these most likely cannot be written off.

Keeping track of your subletting and hosting income and expenses shouldn't be difficult, but make sure that you are paying attention to how many days that your property is being rented out throughout the year. Casual hosts who are just trying out the web services or don't host very often inadvertently overpay their taxes, since they are unaware of the 14-day primary residence rule.

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