I rented out a spare bedroom in my home for 61 nights in 2015, and I’m trying to figure out the prorating of expenses. The spare bedroom was used periodically for hosting family/friend guests, but was not otherwise used for an office or other home purposes.
I’m confused about this statement in the recent Airbnb informal tax advice (http://assets.airbnb.com/eyguidance/us.pdf): “You may deduct expenses on your rental property during a period in which it is not being rented as long as it is actively being held out for rent. This applies to a period between rentals, as well as to the period during which a property is being marketed as a rental property for the first time. The IRS can disallow these deductions if you are unable to show you were actively seeking a profit and had a reasonable expectation of achieving one. The deduction cannot be disallowed just because your property is difficult to rent.” (page 11)
This seems to contradict the statement from IRS Publication #572, "Any day that the unit is available for rent but not actually rented is not a day of rental use. "
If I use the latter statement, I can only count days in which my spare bedroom was actually rented (61 days). If I use the former, it seems I could use the days in which my spare bedroom was actually rented (61 days) AND the days when it was listed as “available” for rent on Airbnb (somewhere around 250 days). These are two pretty different numbers, resulting in very different percentage amounts for prorating expenses.
Can someone help clarify the difference? I realize that ultimately I will want to check with a tax professional – but I’m curious about what I’m missing when reading the IRS publications and trying to apply them to Airbnb renting within my home.