Person doing taxes for investment property depreciation


Investment Property Depreciation: Here’s What To Know


Depreciation is a valuable tax break given to real estate investors that allows them to deduct the wear and tear on an investment property on their income tax return. It is a non-cash expense, thus it has no effect on the investor's cash flow, but it can lower the investor's taxable income, resulting in large tax savings. In this blog post, we'll go over how depreciation works, what tax breaks are available, and how investors may use depreciation to maximize their return on investment.


What Is Depreciation?

When you buy an investment property, the IRS permits you to deduct the property's wear and tear over time. This is referred to as depreciation. Depreciation is defined by the IRS as the progressive loss in the value of a property caused by wear and tear, age, or obsolescence. Depreciation is based on the premise that as a property ages, its value declines and it becomes less useful.


How To Calculate Investment Property Depreciation

The IRS uses a system known as the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System to compute depreciation on investment property (MACRS). The IRS gives a useful life to each category of property using this procedure. Residential properties, for example, have a useful life of 27.5 years, whereas commercial properties have a useful life of 39 years. The investor then divides the property's cost by the number of years it will be useful to get the annual depreciation deduction.


What Costs Are Eligible For Depreciation?

Investors should realize that not all of the cost of the property is depreciable. The cost of the land is not depreciable because it does not wear out or become obsolete. Furthermore, some personal items, such as appliances and furniture, are not depreciable. These things are instead classified as "personal property" and are depreciated using a separate mechanism known as Section 179.



Tax Benefits Of Investment Property Depreciation


Lowering taxes through tax depreciation for investment property


Offsetting Rental Income 

One advantage of depreciation is that it can be used to offset rental revenue from the property, lowering the amount of income tax owed. Depreciation can also be used to generate a tax loss that can be used to offset other income. 


This is especially advantageous for investors with a high income or who are in a high tax band. For example, if an investor owns a rental property with $20,000 in rental income and $10,000 in depreciation, the investor will only be taxed on $10,000 in income.


Offsetting Passive Income

Depreciation can also be used to offset passive income, which is money generated by a passive activity such as rental revenue or income from a limited partnership. This means that even if an investor does not have any other income to offset his passive income, he can still use depreciation to lower his tax bill.


How To Maximize Tax Benefits Of Investment Property Depreciation

Investors can profit from depreciation by purchasing assets with a shorter usable life, such as commercial properties, or properties in need of repairs or restorations. This permits investors to claim a bigger depreciation deduction during the first few years of ownership, which can result in substantial tax savings. Furthermore, investors should consider purchasing houses in high-income neighborhoods, which might yield higher rental revenue and result in a larger tax loss.



How To Avoid Repaying Depreciation Deductions Through Taxes: The 1031 Exchange


Upgrading real estate through 1031 exchange method


It's also worth noting that when the property is sold, the investor must recover any depreciation done in the past, which means the investor must pay the depreciation back in taxes. However, there are options that can be used to avoid or minimize depreciation recapture, such as a 1031 exchange, which allows the investor to delay taxes by utilizing the profits from the sale of the property to purchase another property.

Depreciation is an invaluable tax break for real estate investors that allows them to deduct the wear and tear on their investment property on their income tax return. Investors can maximize their return on investment and lower their overall tax burden by understanding how depreciation works, the tax advantages available, and how to capitalize on them. 


The first time (and really, the first few times) you claim tax depreciation for investment properties, you should absolutely speak with a tax specialist who specializes in the field. Remember to preserve all records and documentation of the property's purchase price, the cost of any upgrades done, and the annual depreciation. This will be required when filing taxes or if the property is ever sold.



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