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General

The Landlord Cell Phone Expense

landlord cell phone expense
Are you expensing your cell phone usage for your rental properties?

Ever since some company named for a fruit unveiled the iPhone, the cell phone has changed from an important part of daily life to an essential part. From texts to emails to even (gasp! old school!) calls, most landlords today manage their rental property using their pint-sized touchscreen sidekick. Because it is so critical, cell phone related costs are a legitimate expense for a landlord.

What Phone Expenses Count For a Landlord?

There are two main components to cell phone expense.

  • The phone itself
  • The cellular plan (talk, text, and data) that allows you to use the phone on the go

Fortunately, both your purchase of a cell phone and the monthly cellular plan are legitimate landlord expenses. If you run your rental property business as a “pass thru” entity that shows up on your personal taxes (as many landlords do), these expenses will show up on the Schedule E of your IRS tax return.

Additionally, if you use just one phone for both business and personal, you’ll want to calculate roughly how much of your use of your smartphone is split between your landlording business and your personal use of the phone and allocate the expense appropriately (example, if 30% of the usage was for property management, expense 30%).

You may want to talk to a CPA about the expense also, as there are some advisors who suggest you can deduct the full cost of your line if you already have another line you use for your personal use.

Where On the Tax Return Does Cell Phone Expenses Appear?

If your rental property activities are as a ‘pass thru entity’ (aka appear on your personal return), then your landlord cell phone expense can appear on the ‘Other’ line of Schedule E.

Does tracking rental property expenses seem daunting? Never fear! Look into a free online tool like RentalIncomeExpense.com. With this software, you can easily record property expenses and generate a Schedule E Helper report at tax time.

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Landlord Tips

Smart Technology in Rental Property

Smart Technology
Landlords benefit from installing smart devices in rental property.

Smart technology is a term that describes devices that automate or communicate information to make life easier. It’s been around longer than we probably realize in items such as programmable coffee pots or thermostats. Most of today’s smart technology rely on the internet and smartphones (and even some voice commands!) making devices easier to operate (pretty smart, eh?). There are pros landlords should consider when investing smart technology in rental property.

Savings with Smart Technology in Rental Property

Smart technology commands an initial upfront cost. The devices themselves and installation are expenses landlords incur when up fitting rental property with these devices. In the long run, though, landlords will achieve savings with smart technology while attracting tenants looking to rent a smart home. An Entrata survey concluded tenants are willing to pay higher rents for a “smarter” home. These higher rents will offset the initial cost of the devices and provide savings for landlords.

Further savings can come directly from the devices. For example, installing cameras or a security system to the exterior of the rental property can give tenants peace of mind (and a desire to rent your property!). At the same time, landlords may realize some savings if insurance companies reduce premiums because of the security systems. Another example of savings can be from smart door locks. They eliminate the cost of locksmiths for new tenants or lost keys.

So should landlords install smart technology? Yes. With the initial cost of these devices, landlords can easily record these expenses and related receipts in RentalIncomeExpense.com – the free income & expense tracking software designed for landlords. Landlords can pocket the savings and continue to invest in their rental properties.

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General

Free Landlord Income & Expense Tracking Software

Free Landlord Accounting Software
Get started with free landlord accounting software at RentalIncomeExpense.com!

Landlords wear a lot of different hats. They are marketers when trying to advertise and find tenants. They are handy people when trying to maintain the physical upkeep of their rental property. And they are accountants who have to keep track of the income earned and expenses made related to their rentals. There is a lot of choice for landlords when it comes to accounting software to help manage rental property. One of the free landlord income & expense tracking software that is easy to learn and designed specifically for landlords is RentalIncomeExpense.com.

Expensive property management software (like Renttec Direct, Tenant Cloud, or Buildium) is overkill for the small landlord – costing more in time and money than it is worth. On the other hand, an Excel spreadsheet isn’t nearly powerful enough.  For example, it cannot easily generate the different reports that a landlord needs.

RentalIncomeExpense.com is the best of all worlds:

  • Simple to setup
  • FREE
  • Designed for landlords
  • Instant reports that matter (such as profit & loss and the 1040 Schedule E helper)
  • Accessible from your smartphone
  • Backed up by ClearNow’s proven online infrastructure (since 2000)

To get started with free landlord income & expense tracking software, set up a free account today at RentalIncomeExpense.com today!

Categories
Landlord Taxes

Understanding Landlord Auto and Travel Expenses

Okay, maybe not the right vehicle for work commutes in terms of mileage expenses!

One of the categories on the IRS Form 1040 Schedule E is for “Auto and Travel” expenses. Here is a quick explanation to understanding this expense category. By tracking and understanding landlord auto and travel expenses, you will increase your expenses and thus lower the taxes you owe.

Do You Have a Home Office?

First, it is important to understand if you have a separate office for your landlording activity or if you work from home. Working from home is more advantageous.

  • If you work from home: You can deduct any travel that you make from your home for activities related to your rental properties. In this situation, your home office must be your principal place of business and be where you do administrative tasks. If this is the case, you can deduct trips from your home office to your rental properties and back.
  • If you work from an office for your rental activity: Unfortunately, if you have an office where you do your day-to-day rental management, you are limited by the “commuting rule.” Commuting expenses are non-deductible expenses. In general, trips from your office or home to and form your rental properties are not deductible due to this rule. So understanding landlord auto and travel expenses can affect deductibility opportunities.

How Much Can You Expense?

You might think it will take a lot of effort to calculate your automobile and travel expenses. Fortunately, the IRS provides a “standard mileage” rate which is a shortcut to calculating this expense.

With the standard mileage rate, you keep track of the miles that you travel (like trips to Home Depot for rental supplies). Once you have your mileage, you multiply it against the “standard mileage” rate for the year.

You can also do the “actual expense” method. With this method, you track the actual cost of using your car. However, most people do not use the “actual expense” method because it requires more work. You would need to track gas, oil, repairs, and depreciation using your own methodology.

Landlord Auto and Travel Expenses Saves You Money at Tax Time

In conclusion, a lot of landlords do not take the time to track auto and travel expenses. However, tracking it is fairly straightforward. Once you’ve calculated your expense for a trip, you can enter it into free landlord software like RentalIncomeExpense.com so it is stored online and a report can be generated at tax time.

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Landlord Tips

Move in Checklist for Landlords and Tenants

Move in Checklist
The move in checklist is a valuable guide for landlords and tenants.

Lists are helpful tools as they serve as reminders. Grocery, cleaning, and “honey do” lists are just a few of the many popular ones to mention. The move in check list for landlords and tenants is a valuable guide for both parties. They can complete the checklist together during the walk through of the rental property so all parties are on the same page.

Checklist Benefits

For landlords, the move in checklist for landlords and tenants keeps track of the condition of the rental property. It also serves as a reference to identify any damage that may have occurred during occupancy beyond normal wear and tear. For tenants, the checklist serves as guidance for what repairs or improvements should be made prior to or during the tenancy. It also gives tenants an understanding of the condition of the rental before move in.

Checklist Contents

The move in checklist for landlords and tenants should include the main components of each room in the rental property. For example, items to check for in the kitchen would be a working refrigerator and clean and empty cabinets. For each room reviewed, there should be an area to identify any needed repairs or improvements. The move in checklist can also inform tenants on items such as setting up utilities, managing pets, and throwing away trash.

There are checklist-related tools available for landlords and tenants. For example, Zillow offers a downloadable check list. And landlords can use RentalIncomeExpense.com to track expenses related to agreed upon repairs and improvements.

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Landlord Tips

Rental Property Maintenance Expenses

Rental Property Maintenance Expenses
Landlords face a variety of expenses when managing rental property.

Landlords like to collect rent on time and in full. That’s the revenue side of the landlording business. The expense side can vary widely because of unforseeable surprises. Landlords can organize rental property maintenance expenses into two buckets – known and unknown. Understanding these expenses and preparing for them as best as possible are beneficial for landlording success.

Known Expenses

Known rental property maintenance expenses as those that landlords expect every year. Examples of these types of expenses include mortgage payments, insurance premiums, and property taxes. For the most part, these types of expenses remain the same year over year, and they are rarely a surprise to pay when due. Known expenses are the easier to budget.

Unknown Expenses

Unknown rental property maintenance expenses are more difficult to budget because they are . . . well . . . unknown. Many of these expenses are related to some form of repair. For example, the air conditioning unit could suddenly stop working in the middle of a heat wave, and you need to figure out how to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. Or, a pipe bursts and you need to quickly repair it to prevent damage to the tenant’s property or the rental property. To make life easier, it is wise to do your best to plan for the unexpected. Planning can include setting aside a budget for emergencies or a short list of professionals to help in a time of need.

As landlords incur rental property maintenance expenses, they can track them in landlord software. By tracking expenses, landlords can run reports that may help make budgeting easier for future years. RentalIncomeExpense.com follows the Form 1040 Schedule E expense categories.

Categories
Landlord Taxes

Schedule E for Rental Property

Schedule E
Landlords need to file a schedule E with their form 1040 every tax year to report income (or loss) from rental property.

Schedule E is one of the many schedules that are part of the IRS form 1040. Taxpayers use Schedule E to report income and expenses from supplemental income. In contrast to earned income, supplemental income is not received through employment. Examples of supplemental income include rentals, royalties, and income from S corporations and partnerships. Landlords need to file a schedule E with their form 1040 every tax year to report income (or loss) from rental property.

Income on Schedule E

Schedule E is organized into five parts. Part I is the section focusing on income or loss from rental income. In this section, the primary income to complete falls on line 3: “Rents Received”. On this line, landlords report the rental income received from tenants for each identified property.

Expenses on Schedule E

To complete schedule E, landlords need to classify expenses based on 15 categories provided by the IRS. These expense categories include advertising, cleaning and maintenance, and insurance, just to name a few. In contrast to the simplicity of the rent reporting line, for expenses, landlords need to select a category for each expense for each property.

Completing schedule E is reasonably straightforward. In fact, it becomes very easy to complete if landlords use accounting software to track rental income and expenses. One in particular, RentalIncomeExpense.com, provides a schedule E helper report that mimics the schedule E. At tax time, landlords can provide this report to accountants for easy tax preparation. Best of all, RentalIncomeExpense.com is free!

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Landlord Tips

Landlord Income Expense Tracking Reports

Income Expense Tracking Reports
Landlord income expense tracking reports are necessary to gauge the health of the rental property business.

Landlord income expense tracking is an important task. One benefit of tracking such information is that the data can be used to create helpful reports. When used correctly, reports gauge the health of the rental property business and to assist accountants at tax time.

Landlord Income Expense Tracking Report #1: P&L

The profit and loss statement is a report that summarizes revenues received and expenses incurred with managing rental property. It shows how well or poorly the business is doing by its net income or loss. As a result of using this report, landlords can identify areas to reduce expenses or make improvements to strengthen the business.

Report #2: Schedule E Helper

The schedule E helper report is useful at tax time. This report is unique to RentalIncomeExpense.com. RentalIncomeExpense.com is free landlord accounting software. Landlords file schedule E with form 1040 at tax time. The schedule E helper report follows the same income and expense categories as those on schedule E, and it generates a report to help accountants at tax time.

Landlord accounting software makes it a snap to generate reports. In contrast, using a spreadsheet alone to generate reports is much more challenging. In conclusion, by using a good system for reports and data, landlords can quickly determine how their business is doing.

Categories
General

Helpful Tools for Small Businesses

Tools for Small Businesses
There are many helpful tools that make running a small business easier.

Starting a business is not easy. Managing the day to day activity while trying to grow the business is not easy either. With today’s modern technology and innovative minds, there are many helpful tools for small businesses to make their lives easier. Here are a few to mention:

Accounting/Bookkeeping Tools

Keeping track of income and expenses is important for two primary reasons. First, you need this information to complete income taxes every year. Second, this information will give you an idea of how well your business is doing – Do you have profits? Are you growing? There is a variety of accounting tools available for small businesses. Some are free and focus on a target market like RentalIncomeExpense.com, which caters to landlords and rental property. Some are expensive but applicable to any business like QuickBooks. Whatever accounting tool you choose, know that this tool is pretty important and helpful, especially if you can run reports that summarize how your business is operating.

Communication Tools

Communicating with customers and employees is important. How you communicate and the ease in which you communicate can make running your business easier. Email is pretty standard and in many respects becoming more popular than telephone. Similar to accounting tools, there is a lot of choice with email providers. One of the most popular email providers is Google’s Gmail. For businesses, Google Workspace consolidates a number of tools, such as email and storage, enabling you to better manage operating your business.

Similar to email, electronic signatures are another paperless communication tool that can streamline your business. Whether you need signatures from employees or from customers, using electronic signature software will save everyone time. There are some esignature tools that charge a low flat fee like eSignToday and some that charge a recurring monthly fee like DocuSign.

The tools available make running a small business easier. Some are free and some are well worth the cost. Nevertheless, there is a lot of choice, and finding those that best fits your needs will put you on the road to running a successful business.

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Landlord Tips

Organizing Receipts for Landlords

Organize Receipts
Organizing receipts for landlords is important for running the business.

Landlording is a business, so organizing receipts for landlords becomes important. Businesses need to keep records of their activities, including receipts for purchases made. Receipts come in handy if you want to return an item. They especially come in handy if landlords are audited, as receipts show proof of purchase including prices paid. So what is the best way to organize receipts?

The best way of organizing receipts for landlords is the one which is easy and accessible. For example, you can keep receipts in a shoebox, file them in a three-ring binder, or take photos of them and store them in an online folder. Another tip is to organize them by date. If you file receipts away as you make purchases, they will automatically be organized by date making them easier and faster to retrieve. Landlords who track income and expenses using software like RentalIncomeExpense.com can get into a groove of recording the purchase in the software and then immediately filing away the receipt. The software will track the date of activity. When you need to pull a receipt, you just need to find it by date. Organize receipts by date, and you’ll spend little time on the hunt! Recordkeeping and organization make life easier!