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Money Matters:
The taxing side of real estate investing

This is part 3 in this Money Matters series with guest columnist Jake Pence. You can read part one What's the best way to invest in your future here and part two on the importance of Liquidity and diversification.

by Jake Pence, Guest Columnist

For the majority of investors, taxation should never be the main driver behind an investment. However, taxation should absolutely be considered in an efficient investment portfolio. At the end of the day, how much money you keep is more important than how much money you earn.

The Internal Revenue Source (IRS) has written a painfully long book called, "The Internal Revenue Code" otherwise known as the tax code. The tax code isn’t painfully long and dense because of the many different ways the IRS can collect taxes. In fact, the collection of taxes is rather simple. If you make “X”, then you pay “Y.” Rather, the tax code is so long because of the many ways you can legally reduce your tax liability.

Individuals are able to reduce their tax liability if they perform actions that the government likes. One of the government’s favorite actions is providing housing to the public; therefore, there are many great tax benefits for real estate investors. One of the great real estate tax benefits is depreciation.

Real estate depreciation allows you to deduct the costs of a property over its useful life (as determined by the IRS) which reduces your taxable income. This is known as a “paper loss” because on paper it looks like the value of your investment decreased when, in reality, the value of your property likely increased due to appreciation and you collected monthly cash flow from the property if your income was greater than your expenses.

The tax benefits of real estate are very powerful and warrant their own article; however, this is how the wealthy stay wealthy. They buy real estate and legally reduce their taxable income, so they keep more of their money and then use that money to buy more real estate. It’s not complicated, and it’s 100% legal.

When it comes to taxation, real estate is the belle of the ball; however, stock market investors are able to place investments in tax efficient accounts and control the timing of their capital gains. The main tax benefit available to stock market investors is the ability to defer taxes through retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs. Additionally, you are able to choose the timing of the taxation by electing the account to be a “traditional” or "Roth" retirement vehicle.

With a traditional IRA, you are able to deduct your contributions in the year they are made, but you must pay taxes on them once you withdraw the funds. This is ideal for someone who thinks they will be in a lower tax bracket once they are retirement age. You contribute after-tax dollars to a Roth IRA, so this is ideal for someone who thinks they will be in a higher tax bracket once they retire. If you hold a specific stock for longer than a year, then you are no longer subject to the highest capital gains tax and this will allow you to keep more of your earnings.

About the author:
• Jake Pence is the President of Blue Chip Real Estate and a consultant for Fairlawn Capital, Inc.. A 2019 graduate from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois, he is a 2016 graduate from St. Joseph-Ogden High School where he was a three-sport athlete for the Spartans. You can view his latest acquisitions and advice on his YouTube channel here.

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