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Tax-free positive ‘cash flow’—and no tenants

Posted by John T. Reed on

Tax-free positive ‘cash flow’—and no tenants

Zillow say my house would rent for $6,000. Invitation Homes says it costs them 38% of the gross to operate their collection of rental houses. Applying that to my house means I have to pay 38% x $6,000 = $2,280 to live there. We also have a small mortgage with a $1,900 payment.

So positive “cash flow” of $6,000 - $2,280 - $1,900 = $1,820. That is how much I, in effect, get owning this house and living here. Rent that I do not have to pay is equal to incoming cash.

Only it’s better. Receiving cash rent from a tenant is a taxable event. You only get to keep the after-tax amount. Avoiding paying rent has the same arithmetic value, but it is not a taxable event.

If there is inflation, the amount of my positive “cash flow” instantaneously adjust precisely to the new rental market value. No delay. No CPI formula.

It is an annuity in kind Most annuities pay cash. But cash is a disaster in inflation. Annuitants are among the most hard hit victims of inflation. With an annuity in kind, you receive some good or service, not cash, but in a tax-free form from a non-taxable event. If you received some other non-cash thing of value, it would be taxable income.

But wait, there’s more. From time to time, local, state, and federal governments offer to help you buy a first home or a home if you are a fireman, policemen, or teacher. Buyers of rental property get no such help.

Generally, the mortgage terms offered to owner occupant home buyers are significantly better than those offered to rental property and even more better than stock market loans or HELOCs or refis.

If you sell, you get to exclude $250,000 per spouse from federal capital gains tax.

It is the only investment you can personally use. You cannot eat gold or live in Tesla stock. All other investments are purely mercenary. You can sell them to buy something—after you pay the tax. With a home, you just use it. No money changes hands. No toll or tax collector demands his cut.

In most states, if you go bankrupt, you get to keep your home equity or part of it. What about your rental property equity? All given to your creditors. Will an LLC protect your rental property from being divided among your creditors? Not even a smidgeon.

Are you or your family eligible for college aid, Medicaid? Your home equity is generally not counted to answer that question. Your rental property, on the other hand, is required to be contributed to college and medical expenses.

It’s almost as if the various levels of governments are trying to tell you which type of real estate to invest in.

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