One savvy strategy smart investors use is putting their rental properties in a trust to avoid certain taxes and ease the transfer of property ownership.
After acquiring one or multiple rental properties and building your real estate portfolio, it’s important to manage these assets with estate planning. You must consider taxes, ownership, and, in the event of your death, who will take ownership.
This is where a trust comes into play.
Investors will put their rental properties in a living trust so their family members can easily inherit the properties at the time of the investor’s death and avoid hefty inheritance taxes.
But one of the main questions investors have is how is rental income from a property held in a trust taxed.
In this article, we’ll provide a brief overview of trusts for rental properties, how rental income is taxed, and if you should choose a trust or an LLC ownership.
Why Put Rental Property Into a Trust?
Many homeowners, not just investors, put their properties into a living trust.
Keeping properties in a trust allows family members to inherit them easily by skipping the long and drawn-out probate period. They will also avoid inheritance and estate taxes and pay less in capital gains taxes if they decide to sell the property.
If you plan to leave a legacy of rental property owners, then a living trust will keep the family business alive seamlessly. There will be little paperwork involved with the transfer of ownership, and beneficiaries will save on taxes.
Types of Trusts for Your Rental Property
There are two types of trusts where you can hold your rental property. While the goal is the same, the way they operate is drastically different.
A revocable trust is also known as a living trust. When you set up a revocable trust, you can take on the role of both grantor and trustee.
You may also make changes within the trust, including assets and beneficiaries. So, you have the option to sell or acquire properties while owning this trust.
A revocable trust is ideal for real estate investors who are young, in good health, and plan to manage their portfolios still.
An irrevocable trust cannot be changed. What is in the trust is set in stone, including the beneficiaries.
The person setting up the trust can only take the role of a grantor. They lose the privilege to manage the trust and its assets. This responsibility falls to a trustee.
For ambitious and young real estate investors, this may not be the best option for your rental properties, but it is still an option to explore if you wish.
How is Rental Income Taxed When a Property is Held in a Trust?
Now that you’re aware of the two types of trusts where you can hold your rental property let’s dive into how each one taxes rental income.
One important thing to note is that some states, including California, will charge an additional state tax to trusts.
Revocable Trust Taxation
When you keep your rental property in a revocable trust, you must file two tax forms.
The first is the 1040 form to claim the income generated by the trust along with capital gains or interest accrued throughout the year.
The second is a 1041 form, which reports how much taxable income the trust earned. This will also determine if there are tax deductions or credits that apply.
In other words, you, as the grantor and trustee, are individually responsible for the rental income generated by the trust when it comes to taxes.
Irrevocable Trust Taxation
When you keep your rental property in an irrevocable trust, the trust must file a tax return and claim any income, interest, dividends, or capital gains earned during the year.
However, if income is distributed, then the beneficiaries are responsible for claiming the earnings on their individual taxes.
How to Place a Rental Property in a Trust
It’s very easy and affordable to create a trust for your rental property.
The first step is to set up your living trust and name the beneficiaries. This can oftentimes be done right online, but you can also work with an estate planner.
Next, you will transfer the rental property’s deed into the trust, removing your name as the owner.
Lastly, you will record the deed with the city or state. When recording the deed for a rental property, you can expect to pay between $100 and $250.
Trust or LLC for Rental Property: Which is Better?
When researching how you should own your rental property legally, you may find yourself comparing a trust to an LLC.
While both of these are pass-through entities for taxes, they offer different benefits and accomplish different goals.
Benefits of Putting a Rental Property in a Trust
The benefit of putting a rental property in a trust is that your beneficiaries will avoid paying high tax rates when they take ownership.
These benefits include:
- Avoid inheritance and estate tax
- Reduce capital gains tax when you sell the property
- Avoid probate period
- Easier to inherit property
- Pass-through entity for taxes
If you are building generational wealth and want to keep your rental properties in the family, then a trust is a great option.
Benefits of Putting a Rental Property in an LLC
When you open an LLC for your rental property, you treat the investment as a business rather than an asset. It also limits the liability in case of a lawsuit, protecting your other assets and businesses.
Benefits of an LLC include:
- Unlimited members to own part of the LLC and its assets
- Protects against liability in case of a lawsuit
- Business entity with pass-through tax benefits
However, it is more expensive to open and maintain an LLC than a trust. Most states have a recurring annual fee to keep the LLC open, while a trust has a one-time set-up fee.
Protect Your Rental Property Assets with Scout Property Management
When you set up a trust for your rental property, you can protect the property even further with professional property management services.
As the leading property management company in the Temecula area, Scout Property Management handles the everyday maintenance and communication of your rental.
Plus, we assist with estate planning and portfolio management to ensure your wealth and investments are protected and maximized.
Contact us to speak with a real estate professional about your rental property goals today!