Owning and managing rental property is a business activity. Depending on the number of properties you own, landlording can be a full- or part-time gig. Whether you create a separate business entity or not for your rental property, recordkeeping is important primarily for tax purposes and therefore requires two types of records: (a) a record of your income and expenses, and (b) documentation of your income and expenses.
Income & Expense Records
Tracking rental property income and expenses will help you complete rental property-related tax forms, such as Form 1040 Schedule E. The tax forms will determine if you earned a profit or incurred a loss for that year from your rental property. Because Schedule E is organized by each property, you’ll want to be sure to keep income and expense records separate for each rental address.
Documentation of your income and expenses will come in handy if you are audited. Receipts, credit card statements, and cancelled checks will prove the income earned and expenses incurred should the IRS question the information reported to them. Supporting documentation will create a paper trail and prove that your claims are correct and the tax deductions you receive are legitimate.
Landlords with good recordkeeping habits will maximize the tax benefits of owning and managing rental property. Keeping track of income and expenses and maintaining supporting documentation will reduce the stress if audited, let you know how your landlording is doing financially, and provide overall piece of mind.