Here are two points to remember.
* The fourteen-day-or-ten-percent test.
The IRS applies this test to determine if you use your vacation home as a personal residence. If you stay in the home more than 14 days or 10% of the total days it's rented in a calendar year (whichever is greater), the general rule is you're using it as your home.
Why does it matter? Because treating a vacation home as your personal residence affects your rental deductions. You'd include all the rent you receive as income on your tax return. But related expenses are generally limited to the amount of that income, meaning you can't offset other income with a loss. Note that time spent in your vacation home by family members and certain others can count as personal use.
* The less-than-fifteen exception.
Rent out your vacation home for less than 15 days during the taxable year, and the income is yours, tax-free. You don't even have to report it on your return. Just be aware that any expenses related to the rental are nondeductible. If you itemize, you can still deduct qualified mortgage interest and real estate taxes on your vacation home.
Other tax rules, such as passive activity and capital gains reporting, can also impact the decision to rent out your vacation home. Give us a call before you put up that "For Rent" sign. We'll be happy to review your options under the tax rules.