For Your Clients: Can I Deduct Taxes on Second House?
By Claudia Buck
RISMEDIA, August 31, 2010--(MCT)--Do I pay taxes for household workers? Can I take a deduction for a second home used by family? The IRS' Jesse Weller and the California Franchise Tax Board's Brenda Voet tackle those questions from readers.
QUESTION: I bought a house a mile from my primary residence with the specific intent of renting it in the future to my daughter. If my daughter lives in the house this year and pays the utilities in her name (but pays no rent), does the house still qualify as a second residence?
ANSWER: Yes, you are considered to have personally used the second property all year because your daughter used it as her primary residence. Accordingly, you may deduct the entire amount of the property tax and mortgage interest as itemized deductions.
Q: If I hire people to work in my yard or do housekeeping, is there a limit to the amount I can pay them without having to fill out 1099s like an employer does? And if there is a limit, does it only apply for one person, or can I hire another for the same limit for a different type of work?
A: When a taxpayer hires people to work in and around his/her personal household — such as housekeepers, baby sitters, gardeners and yard workers — those workers may be considered employees.
Although you usually do not need to complete a Form 1099 for paid work that is performed in and around your home, you may need to issue a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. You also may be responsible for withholding and paying employment taxes on wages paid to workers who qualify as your employees.
Usually a household worker is considered an employee if the payer can control both what work is done and how it is done. If the worker controls how the work is done, the worker is normally considered self-employed and not an employee.
For example, (individuals) who work in your home like carpenters, builders and plumbers are normally self-employed, independent contractors and are not employees. Self-employed workers usually provide their own tools and offer their services to the general public.
To answer your question about the payment threshold: If you pay an individual household employee cash wages (including wages paid by check or money order) of more than $1,700 in 2010, you generally must withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes from all cash wages.
You have the option to pay your employee's share of taxes from your own funds rather than withhold it from their salary. You are not required to withhold federal income tax from wages you pay to a household employee, unless your employee asks you to withhold income tax and you agree. In some situations, you also may be responsible to pay federal unemployment taxes on a portion of the cash wages.
If you must withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, or if you withhold federal income tax, you will need to file a Form W-2 for each employee after the end of the year. In that situation you will also need to file a Schedule H, Household Employment Taxes, after the end of the year with your Form 1040 individual income tax return.