Real Estate Agents: Updated List of Available Deductions

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Real Estate Agents: Updated List of Available Deductions

For busy real estate agents who manage their own finances, it can be hard to find the time (and energy) to get expenses in order. If this is you, make these tasks top priority. Setting aside time now can save you thousands of dollars later on down the road. To help kick-start your preparations, here are several tax deductions that you should take into consideration. From commissions paid to home office expenses, there are several activities that could reduce the amount owed to the IRS.

Deduction #1: Commissions Paid 

Did you know that commissions you pay to other agents or employees that work with or under you are generally fully deductible business expenses? This is a deduction you should not overlook since commissions can add up quickly! Just remember, if you paid anyone for services, get a W-9 because a 1099 may be needed.

Deduction #2: Home Office 

You can take advantage of the home office deduction if you conduct business out of any part of your home. The home office deduction offers either the regular method or a simplified method. Most self-employed people find that the simplified method maximizes their deduction. However, before pursuing this deduction, know your home office has to be used exclusively for business. This means your bed; porch swing and kitchen table do not count as deductible expenses. It also means that if you are taxed as an S-Corp, the rules are a little more complicated.

Deduction #3: Desk Fees

Whether you are hanging your license under a national franchise or with an independent broker, your desk fees are deductible. However, if you’re taking a deduction for brokerage desk fees, you will not be able to claim the home office deduction.

Note: if you are taking this deduction, you no longer qualify for deduction #2.

Deduction #4: Education and Training

Continuing education is a great way to stay competitive. If you take classes or training courses to further your professional education and maximize your potential, you may be able to deduct your registration fees, related materials, and certain travel costs. There are several requirements:

  • The training and education cannot qualify you for a different trade or business.
  • It also cannot be for the purpose of meeting minimum educational requirements.
  • The training course/courses must maintain or improve the skill related to your field of real estate.

However, the course to become a Realtor or a Broker is not deductible.

Deduction #5: Marketing and Advertising Expenses

 

Digital and online advertising costs are quickly becoming the greatest area of spending. Advertising expenses such as marketing materials, staging, photography, and signage can all be deductible through the Internal Revenue Service’s advertising expense deduction. This is one of the best deductions because of its broad requirements!

Deduction #6: Standard Auto

Every mile you drive for business can be deducted from your taxes. Between the showings, listing presentations and more, the miles can rack up fast!  If you drive 10,000 miles or more per year for your real estate business, you may get the greatest tax benefit by taking the standard mileage deduction versus actual costs. If you are a lower mileage driver or have especially high car payments, the actual cost method may yield a higher deduction.

Deduction #7: Office Supplies and Equipment

Whether you’re taking desk fees or home-office deductions, you can still claim other office-related expenses. This includes stationery, photocopies, and any other consumables needed to run your business. Other large purchases that can be expensed in full — or depreciated over a number of years — including furniture, fax machines, copiers, computers, or your telephone and associated bill. If you have a dedicated landline telephone for business, you can fully deduct this expense. If you use your cell phone only, you are eligible to deduct the business percentage of that expense.

Deduction #8: Meals 

There are two situations in which you can deduct meals as a business expense: when you are traveling on business and when you are dining with clients or with other professionals for the purpose of conducting business or generating referral business. In either case, you can deduct 50 percent of your total expense, which includes tax and tip for the meal. Entertainment expenses are no longer deductible after 2017.

Deduction #9: Fees, Licenses, Memberships, and Insurance

Annual fees are a common cost of doing business and are deductible. In real estate, that means your state license renewal, professional memberships, and MLS dues. Please note: The portion of your membership dues attributable to lobbying and political advocacy is not deductible. General business insurance and Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance are both fully deductible business expenses. Additionally, you can deduct real estate taxes necessary for your business, but not self-employment taxes.

Deduction #10:  Software and Business Tools

Any software needed to run your business is fully deductible — including lead generation subscription services such as customer-relationship management (CRM) software. Products that help you automatically track your expenses and mileage may be fully deducted as well.

Deduction #11: Gifts

All of the amazing client gifts that you gave out over the course of the year are deductible as long as you follow these guidelines:

  • You deduct no more than $25 of the cost of business gifts you give directly or indirectly to each person during the tax year.
  • If you give gifts to your couple clients, you can deduct up to $50 per couple, per year.
  • Incidental costs (engraving, packaging, shipping) are not included in the $25 limit if they don’t add substantial value to the gift.
  • Do not consider gifts of $4 or less where you have your business name permanently engraved on the item which you distribute on a regular basis.
  • You have records proving the business purpose of the gift as well as details of the amount spent.

Finally, it is always important to keep in mind that to be deductible, your real estate business expenses must be directly related to your business, ordinary and necessary. For a detailed list of tax deductions, reach out to us for information.

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Jeffrey Schneider, EA, CTRS, NTPI Fellow has the knowledge and expertise to help you reach a favorable outcome with the IRS. He is the head honcho at SFS Tax & Accounting as well as an Enrolled Agent, a Certified Tax Resolution Specialist and Advanced Crypto Tax Expert.
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Author of the Now What? Help! series, Jeff defines and deconstructs IRS notices and clarifies the letters and actions the IRS will take to get what they want. He interprets the world of the IRS in a fashion that mixes attention to detail with humor to help you better understand and resolve your tax problems.

The books are available in paperback and eBook on Amazon.

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