Tax Deductions for Real Estate Agents March 2015

This article will cover a lot of possible tax deductions which you may or may not be able to take. Your individual situation needs to be discussed with your accountant or tax advisor. Generally if you are an independent contractor you can deduct most expenses related to your business activities. But, be sure to keep a daily log of your business activities and expenses, as well as receipts for everything; so in the event of an IRS audit you have documentation.

In our field we do a lot of driving, car expenses (leased or owned) are tax deductible with the exception of “commuting miles” to and from your home to your office. This can be deducted by $.56 a mile (in 2014) or by specific expenses for fuel, repairs, car washing, depreciation, etc. Tolls and parking expense are also deductible. Other business travel by rail, air, ferry’s, taxicabs may also be deductible.

Advertising is deductible and takes many forms: print media, signs, banners, business cards, postal expense of mailings, flyers, promotional materials, web site development and fees and online advertising.

Deductible Professional Fees include: Realtor dues, MLS fees, costs of other listing services, licenses, E&O insurance, business and trade organizations dues, subscriptions to trade publications, fees to attorneys, accountants and consultants.

Equipment used in your business may be deductible for example: Cellular phones, pagers, an answering service, iPad, cameras, calculators, computers, laptops, software programs, copy machines, desk fees if you have them at your office, GPS subscriptions, office furniture, file cabinets and office supplies.

Education: The costs of Continuing Education courses are deductible, as are expenses to attend other seminars or business conferences to maintain and increase your skills. Also deductible are the costs of travel and lodging to attend these events. Books, tapes, CDs, DVDs related to real estate, sales, leases, negotiations and online courses are deductible.

Sales expenses that may be deducted include: client gifts, clerical support, wages paid to a sales assistant, commissions and referral fees you paid out, bank fees (you should have a separate bank account for your business), open house or broker reception costs, locksmith and keys, lockboxes.

Self-employed people may deduct 100% of their health insurance premiums.

Meals and Entertainment are deductible up to 50% of the cost. Be careful, this is often reviewed by the IRS. Be sure to document the business discussion that occurred before, during or after meeting or event.

Home Office Deduction is possible if you exclusively use a portion of your home for business; this deduction is also often looked at by the IRS. If you rent or own a home a percentage of the expense may be deducted; this could include the rent, utilities, repairs, maintenance, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, depreciation, and condo association fees.

Retirement plan contributions to IRA’s, and similar plans can help shelter your business profits. Discuss these opportunities with your advisor.

Two key reminders, every persons situation is different you need to review these possible deductions with your accountant or tax advisor. Keep good records, a daily log and all receipts.

Edward S. Smith, Jr.
Commercial and Investment Real Estate
Instructor, Consultant and Broker
Phone 631 807 2050
Smith Commercial Real Estate
Edward S. Smith Jr., Real Estate Broker
Licensed in New York and Connecticut
Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook, CT