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Help....renting a parent's house
Old 04-01-2021, 10:08 PM   #1
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Help....renting a parent's house

My mom has decided to move to a retirement community. She currently owns a home in a HCOL area. She will be moving to a different state (where she was born and raised and still has family and friends) with significantly lower cost of living.

My understanding is that if she were to sell her house now, she would use the cost basis from when my dad died (2016), have a 250K exemption and pay taxes on the rest. So, for example, the house was purchased for 25K, was appraised at about 1.5 million in 2016 and is currently valued at 2 million. She'd pay taxes on 250K (I think).

She would like to rent it. I think we'd get about 5k per month. My question is: what are the tax ramifications if she rents it and decides to sell it later? Does she lose the step up she got when my dad died?

The house is in her trust. When she is gone, are there any ramifications for her heirs by her having rented it rather than living in it?

I also have an appointment with a tax guy to ask these questions, but I thought if I had some understanding before the appointment begins, Id be better off!
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:20 PM   #2
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I believe if she rents it for 5 years, she will lose the $250K exemption, if she then sold it.
As a really rough approximation, I'd guess that would cost an extra $60K in taxes at the time of sale.

Besides the money aspect, who is going to manage the rental ?
Renting at this time, when someone can move in and stop paying rent and not be evicted is a risk.

ETA: If OP is saying they would rent it out for 5K per month, that is extremely under priced for a 2M home.
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Old 04-02-2021, 05:54 AM   #3
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Did your mom jointly own the house with your father? If so, I believe she only gets the stepped-up basis on your fatherís half of the house at the time of his death. That subtracts roughly $750,000 from the basis of the house in your calculation.

If she rents the house, she should take the depreciation for each year it is rented. Whether she takes the depreciation or not, the allowed depreciation will be subtracted from the cost basis at the time she sells. (Itís a little more complicated than that; she will end up paying income tax on the depreciation at her regular rate, not LT capital gains rate, when she sells the house).

If your mother doesnít live in the house for at least two of the five years previous to selling the house, she loses the $250K exemption.

Bottom line, there will be a big tax bill when she sells the house. That bill will be even bigger if she rents it. It will will very big if she sells after not living there for five years.
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Old 04-02-2021, 07:34 AM   #4
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Also ask your tax guy what federal tax rate will apply to the rental income since the house is owned by a trust. Trusts have vastly different tax brackets than individuals. Just pulled the below 2020 trust federal tax rates from a site online:

$0 to $2,600 in income: 10% of taxable income
$2,601 to $9,450 in income: $260 plus 24% of the amount over $2,600
$9,450 to $12,950 in income: $1,904 plus 35% of the amount over $9,450
Over $12,950 in income: $3,129 plus 37% of the amount over $12,950

It appears that much of her rental income will be taxed at the 37% federal tax rate not to mention applicable state income tax rates.
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Old 04-02-2021, 08:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PandaBear View Post
... My understanding is that if she were to sell her house now, she would use the cost basis from when my dad died (2016), have a 250K exemption and pay taxes on the rest. So, for example, the house was purchased for 25K, was appraised at about 1.5 million in 2016 and is currently valued at 2 million. She'd pay taxes on 250K (I think)....
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Originally Posted by Philliefan33 View Post
Did your mom jointly own the house with your father? If so, I believe she only gets the stepped-up basis on your fatherís half of the house at the time of his death. That subtracts roughly $750,000 from the basis of the house in your calculation...
What state is the house located in? If it's in a community property state such as CA or TX, then your mother got a step-up in basis on the full value of the house. Her current basis would be $1.5M + cost of permanent improvements made since your father died. If it's not in a community property state, then I agree with Philliefan33 that she only got a step-up on your father's half of the house.

If she sold the house now, she would pay tax on SalePrice - SaleCost - CurrentBasis - $250K. The realtor sales commission on a $2M house will eat up a significant portion of the taxable $250K.

What kind of a trust(s) currently own the house? Is the house 100% owned by your mother's revocable living trust? If so, then any rental income is reported on her return and taxed at her own personal rate. If it's half owned by an irrevocable trust that was established at your father's death, then it's more complicated and you need a tax expert to help you.
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
I believe if she rents it for 5 years, she will lose the $250K exemption, if she then sold it.
As a really rough approximation, I'd guess that would cost an extra $60K in taxes at the time of sale.

Besides the money aspect, who is going to manage the rental ?
Renting at this time, when someone can move in and stop paying rent and not be evicted is a risk.

ETA: If OP is saying they would rent it out for 5K per month, that is extremely under priced for a 2M home.


Thanks for your input. The 5k is an estimate. It could possibly rent for more. We wonít rent it right away. My mom plans to move in May and my son will live there temporarily, just so someone is in the house. He wonít pay rent.

We would anticipate not renting it until at least 2022.

We are trying to figure out the tax ramifications of renting it and then selling it, as well as renting it out long term until my moms death. Another option is having a different son move in, so itís not empty and not pay rent over the next year, just until my mom decides what she wants to do.
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Philliefan33 View Post
Did your mom jointly own the house with your father? If so, I believe she only gets the stepped-up basis on your fatherís half of the house at the time of his death. That subtracts roughly $750,000 from the basis of the house in your calculation.

If she rents the house, she should take the depreciation for each year it is rented. Whether she takes the depreciation or not, the allowed depreciation will be subtracted from the cost basis at the time she sells. (Itís a little more complicated than that; she will end up paying income tax on the depreciation at her regular rate, not LT capital gains rate, when she sells the house).

If your mother doesnít live in the house for at least two of the five years previous to selling the house, she loses the $250K exemption.

Bottom line, there will be a big tax bill when she sells the house. That bill will be even bigger if she rents it. It will will very big if she sells after not living there for five years.


Good to know about depreciation. I didnít realize that. We are in CA, so I believe she gets the full amount from the value when my dad died.

I appreciate your input
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:52 AM   #8
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What state is the house located in? If it's in a community property state such as CA or TX, then your mother got a step-up in basis on the full value of the house. Her current basis would be $1.5M + cost of permanent improvements made since your father died. If it's not in a community property state, then I agree with Philliefan33 that she only got a step-up on your father's half of the house.



If she sold the house now, she would pay tax on SalePrice - SaleCost - CurrentBasis - $250K. The realtor sales commission on a $2M house will eat up a significant portion of the taxable $250K.



What kind of a trust(s) currently own the house? Is the house 100% owned by your mother's revocable living trust? If so, then any rental income is reported on her return and taxed at her own personal rate. If it's half owned by an irrevocable trust that was established at your father's death, then it's more complicated and you need a tax expert to help you.


We are n CA. Because the trust was redone after my dads death I donít know the answer for sure. I appreciate the info.....I will look more into this.
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Old 04-02-2021, 11:59 AM   #9
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Thank you to everyone who commented. I learned more about what I need to learn before I meet with the tax person. Thatís exactly what I was hoping to get.....what more should I investigate.

Potentially, for the cost, energy and effort, it may be better to let one of the grandkids live there rent free (just paying the utilities) for a year while my mom decides to rent it out forever or selling.

The last big question I have is.......how does renting the house out now impact the inheritance? Meaning, assuming tax laws donít change, if my mom lived there until her death, the kids inheriting would get the step up basis of the house, so selling it would mean basically no tax bill.

If she rents it until her death and its sold after her death by the heirs, do they still get the stepped up tax base? Or are there ramifications?

Thanks
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:00 PM   #10
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Since it was mentioned that your MoM will be moving to another state, keep in mind that if you rent the house in a state different from the one she is actually a resident of, she may be required to file two separate state income tax returns.
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:10 PM   #11
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We are n CA. Because the trust was redone after my dads death I donít know the answer for sure. I appreciate the info.....I will look more into this.
It's complicated as indicated in responses above. Spend some money to work with a good CPA/tax person to figure out what is best to do. Renting - especially remotely - may be more trouble than it's worth. We went through this several years ago when we moved into a property we had rented out for several years. By living there for 2 years, we got our $500K (for 2 of us) exemption BUT had to pay tax on all of our depreciation - which we had taken.

Be certain you are okay with renting out a property. You might even want to consult an attorney about current law - keep in mind laws can be changed upon the whim of a legislature. Renting has many potential pitfalls as the recent Covid crisis has pointed out. You may find out that "owning" something is not the same as "controlling" it. Many states lean toward renters' rights at the expense of owners' rights. Just a word to the wise - check it out FIRST since YMMV.
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:14 PM   #12
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Thank you to everyone who commented. I learned more about what I need to learn before I meet with the tax person. Thatís exactly what I was hoping to get.....what more should I investigate.

Potentially, for the cost, energy and effort, it may be better to let one of the grandkids live there rent free (just paying the utilities) for a year while my mom decides to rent it out forever or selling.

The last big question I have is.......how does renting the house out now impact the inheritance? Meaning, assuming tax laws donít change, if my mom lived there until her death, the kids inheriting would get the step up basis of the house, so selling it would mean basically no tax bill.

If she rents it until her death and its sold after her death by the heirs, do they still get the stepped up tax base? Or are there ramifications?

Thanks
There are no tax consequences for the heirs. Real estate gets a step-up in basis regardless of whether it's rented or not.
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:30 PM   #13
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There are no tax consequences for the heirs. Real estate gets a step-up in basis regardless of whether it's rented or not.


Thank you!
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:44 PM   #14
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You may also want to check the effect of California Prop. 19. This is a recent change to Prop. 13 and has ramifications for CA property taxes. One of which applies to children inheriting property from their parents.
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Old 04-02-2021, 02:45 PM   #15
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OP - the other issue is that housing is extremely HOT right now. The property would sell quickly and probably for more than expected.

The costs to carry the house for insurance, water, electricity, repairs, maintenance, etc must run $20K (as a guess) per year.
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Old 04-02-2021, 03:05 PM   #16
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I am a proponent of rental properties, but the rental income does not reflect the value of the property. At this time tech is very hot and therefore also at least the Bay Area.

Also include the risk of someone suing you while it is a rental and you might lose the property.

If you donít have an interest in the property, take the bird in hand and pay taxes on it. Prices might go up for another decade, but you could also have a SPAC implosion or China issue and prices might drop.

Who knows...
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Old 04-03-2021, 06:40 AM   #17
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Seems like it's hard to rent SFR properties in HCOL areas for a decent return.

Financial Samurai came to the same conclusion with a SFR in San Francisco and so sold it.
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Old 04-03-2021, 01:36 PM   #18
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Seems like it's hard to rent SFR properties in HCOL areas for a decent return.

Financial Samurai came to the same conclusion with a SFR in San Francisco and so sold it.
True. In many average COL areas, the old 1%/month rule seems to work most of the time. Here in Paradise, you would be hard pressed to get 1/2% of current value/month as rent (probably closer to 1/3% per month.) I think the way most folks think of renting out HCOL areas is that 1) you have locked in the purchase price and can rent out the property until you eventually move in. This is what we did. Or 2) renting to recoup some of your costs (for instance, mortgage interest costs) while the property zooms up in price for an eventual "flip." (Profit comes from increased property value rather than from rent.) I'm sure there are other ways to justify renting at less that 1%/month.

Until Covid hit, local law was reasonably favorable to landlords (not unfair to renters, but, for instance, no rent control and reasonable eviction process.) I wouldn't even consider renting out a property in todays Covid environment - and I would never rent out a property in any state which had any type of rent control. Very much a YMMV situation.
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Old 04-04-2021, 01:21 AM   #19
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You may also want to check the effect of California Prop. 19. This is a recent change to Prop. 13 and has ramifications for CA property taxes. One of which applies to children inheriting property from their parents.


Thank you. Luckily the changes wonít impact us.
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Old 04-04-2021, 01:24 AM   #20
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OP - the other issue is that housing is extremely HOT right now. The property would sell quickly and probably for more than expected.

The costs to carry the house for insurance, water, electricity, repairs, maintenance, etc must run $20K (as a guess) per year.


This is one of those situations where the most practical solution isnít an option, at least at the moment. It is what it is.
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