BiggerPockets Podcast 049: Real Estate Tax Tips, Jokes, and Loopholes With Amanda Han

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In today’s episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast, we are going to talk about something you may think is a bit boring… taxes..

BUT WAIT! Perseverance 

Before you move on to go watch the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars… I promise you this interview isn’t going to bore you to tears, but in-fact could potentially save you thousands of dollars this year alone on your upcoming tax bill. Today, real estate investor and CPA Amanda Han is going to bring a TON of really great tips and advice to help you make sure you are making, and keeping, the most wealth possible.

Additionally, this show is one of the most fun interviews we’ve done on the Podcast, so it definitely brings the once-boring topic of tax planning to a whole new entertaining level. No matter what stage of investing you are in – you definitely don’t want to miss this incredible show.

Read the transcript for episode 49 with Amanda Han here.

Listen to The Show on iTunes

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

In This Show, We Cover:BiggerPockets Podcast _ Real Estate Investing and Wealth Building 9.42.11 AM

  • How to find a good syndication deal
  • Important tax changes YOU need to know for 2013 and 2014
  • The Obamacare Tax – do you need to pay it?
  • The loophole that allows real estate investors to write off “paper losses.”
  • The new laws and tax changes that may limit your mortgage interest deduction
  • When to talk to a tax strategist
  • How to find a great CPA
  • The biggest misconceptions about tax deductions
  • What legal entity should you have?
  • Things YOU need to do before the end of 2013
  • How to deduct your cat food?
  • Investing with a Self Directed IRA
  • Common tax mistakes that many investors make
  • And much, much more.

Books Mentioned in the Show

Tweetable Topics

When looking at syndicated deals, the #1 most important thing to look at is the syndicator, the team behind the deal. (Tweet This!)

If you’re educating your accountant, it’s probably time to find a new one. (Tweet This!)

 Connect with Amanda


Special Note: As we mentioned in the show, please be advised that Amanda cannot give specific legal or accounting help in the comments below – as every person has a complex financial situation that cannot be easily navigated in a simple comment conversation. Please leave comments, of course, just be sure to consult with a CPA like Amanda directly for specific tax help. 

About Author

Thanks for checking out the BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing & Wealth Building Podcast. Hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner strive to bring top-notch educational content and interviews to our listeners -- without the non-stop pitch prevalent around the industry. With over 180,000 listeners per show, the BiggerPockets Podcast has become the biggest real estate podcast in the world. But don’t take our word for it. We’re the top-rated and reviewed real estate show on iTunes — check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!


  1. I love that fact that you can be flexible with real estate. Learning the wholesale aspect of real estate has grown me to understand that assigning contract is not the only thing you want to focus on. There are deals that come across your desk that are to sweet to wholesale to another investor. The goal for 2014 is to acquire more buy and hold property for monthly residual cash flow. Wow, I was so use to saving my receipts for every little thing. I still will, but having a dedicated space exclusively used as an office is a major plus for many of us in the real estate profession.

  2. This has been my favorite podcast so far. Disclaimer, I’m a CPA as well so it’s kind of my cup of tea. Amanda, you did an awesome job of laying everything out as well as giving some tips on items like the SDIRA and the HSA’s that people may not currently know about. Well done and thanks for the refresher!

  3. fantastic job guys!!! and some great tips as we move into the beginning of 2014 🙂 I will be ordering my full year subscription for 2014 to take advantage of the write off 😉

  4. Great content.
    Amanda did a great job covering important points and delivering great explanations.
    I think the podcast should have been conducted more seriously. Jokes although fun
    could have been left to So Cal entertainment.

  5. I can’t remember the last podcast that I learned so much! I can name it all, but some of the key points I took were:
    Josh is a wealthy individual who requires tax planning, use to be a stripper in Vegas but gave that up, makes his girlfriend do security at his properties, his wife is not happy about that, and he exploits his children for labor.
    Brandon deducts his cats as expenses, can fall asleep during a live interview, gets charged $1000 per hour by Amanda (any other person pays less) and thought previously that Josh was just a pretty face.

    Amanda, great job, very informative. Amanda mentioned that you should speak with other successful RE investors to get a referral on a good CPA. Funny thing is, Amanda has not done my taxes (yet) as I have been with my CPA for over 20 years, however, if anyone ever asks me, I have always referred them to her (as opposed to mine) and will continue to do so. This interview is a clear picture as to why.

  6. This was my favorite Podcast so far as well (I have listened to them all). I am new to this world, and just trying to soak up as much information as I can. This show really opened my eyes to how important it is to have an experienced CPA and attorney on your team. Thanks a lot, look forward to the next one.

  7. Great information & timely.
    Excellent way to make a challenging subject entertaining and useful. The subject of tax should be one of our most favorite as it is one if not the biggest expense we incur every year (especially true if you also have a full time employment).
    Perhaps I can put in a question here that may be of benefit to investors. Any thoughts on the prepayment strategy of paying your January mortgages (rentals), property taxes, and/or home insurance in advance this year rather than next year?
    Once again, excellent, entertaining, and very useful podcast (of course, they all are but taxes are my favorite & I’m not an accountant).

    • Hi Leng:

      Thanks for your comment and you bring up a great point: Yes it “may” be beneficial to prepay certain expenses before year-end to accelerate your write offs into 2013. Paying or charging an expense on your card before year-end may accelerate your write offs for an entire year. Make sure you have your tax advisors run the #s however as there are certain times/expenses when this could be disadvantageous for some taxpayers.

  8. Really great stuff! You guys killed it with this episode. Amanda was is super smart and a CPA with a great sense of humor, who’d a thought that was possible. I learned a ton and will be adding this episode to my “best of 2013” file, for later listening. I’m new to BP and learning lots Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  9. Cats don’t provide very good security (like a doberman) but could be used as “mousers” and therefore provide a very valuable service to a real estate investor. 🙂

    Although, I don’t allow my own cats outside to keep them healthier.

  10. Incredible Show guys! Really loved this one.
    Super informative. Really learned a lot in such a short period of time. Understanding and also answering a lot of questions too, on a lot of the subjects I wanted to know more about. Loved all of it. Especially on HSA’s. Understanding syndicate deals better and how they worked. A little of what was involved and needed and not needed. On the Tax changes that have occurred and how they apply to Real Estate Investors. The most commonly missed deductions was a plus. Finding a good CPA and how to better evaluate who you would choose to work with. Definitely the whole entities part on when and not to open as well as the benefits of doing so or not. Mistakes to avoid too. Joshua, Brandon, you guys did an amazing job on this show. Honestly, I thought I was going to fall asleep after 15-20 minutes. I actually couldn’t! It was Awesome! On taxes too! Along with Amanda it was definitely an informative and best show so far that I have really appreciated you guys putting on for the BP community. Amanda Han was incredible! Relateable and I felt, down to earth as a person. Probably the best number cruncher I ever heard from. Amanda Han rocks! Thanks again guys and especially to Amanda Han for all of her time and priceless knowledge. It will certainly come back to you a thousand times over Amanda. Joshua and Brandon, thanks again for such an awesome show and for putting together such an awesome community together. BP is bound to be the next viral site in the world of Real Estate. Greatly appreciate everything I have learned today from all of you. Have an incredible day. After this show I know I will. Also gonna get some dogs and cats. Teach them how to manage my future properties. A lot of kibbles n bits and Fancy Feast too. Thanks for the tip.



  11. Another great episode!

    Amanda, thanks for adding about three pages to my “To Do” list!! Really, though, you provided a great show and gave us all a bunch of useful knowledge that I know will help make me better.


    P.S.–Will…HI-larious commentary!!

      • Greg: Thanks for your question. There are a lot of SDIRA custodians around but in terms of picking the right one for you, a great tip would be none other then Bigger Pockets community! Look at what other members are writing about their custodians in terms of service, pricing, and responsiveness. I know that some custodians are very active on the site in terms of answering questions. uDirect IRA is one of those companies. One of the most important characteristics I would save is to look for a company that is responsive to your questions.

  12. Nathan Pickering on

    Brandon, you just blew my mind! Wholesalers pulling $1k from a SDHSA and taking the $10K profit tax free. That is amazing stuff right there! Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to consult my CPA before I actually do this.

    Thanks guys. Amanda was great and I agree this was absolutely the funniest podcast yet. Looking forward to more L(ing)OL in the future. 🙂

  13. I think you guys had way too much fun…tone it down! JK I really enjoyed all the great tips while still enjoying the show…we went ahead and bought new appliances for our rehab so we can deduct half of the depreciation on our 2013 taxes. We’ve now started to look for a real estate CPA in our area that will help us make sure we’re on the right track. Thank you Amanda and BP for the podcast. Keep it up!

    • A good part about section 179 and bonus depreciation that is deducted is that for lending purposes we can add that back as its not counted as an “actual cash loss,” however you did take a deduction and received a benefit. The best of both worlds if planned correctly.

    • Cuong:

      Thanks for your feedback and glad you were able to implement some of the strategies we shared. Dont forget, in addition to new items that your businesses needs, also look ahead and other expenses that you know you will incur in early January. For example I have a client who will prepay his January mortgage in December to accelerate the write off into 2013.

  14. Great show and lots of good tips.
    Taxes are a dry subject so great job to all 3 of you for keeping it moving and fun.

    Though while dry it is fascinating to hear about all the interesting ways to maximize your deductions for things like Cats. 🙂

  15. Thanks guys for another great show. Just finished listening. The last two shows have been terrific. Amanda I was wondering if you have written any blogs discussing entities for wholesalers and flippers in the past. There was just a ton of great information shared. I live about twenty minutes from Fullerton and would love to sit down and talk. Knowing you’re a foodie, I’ll bring you some of my famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
    Thanks Again.
    Dave Torres

    • Hi Dave: Thanks for your comment. I have not written a blog on entities for wholesalers but that is a good suggestion and I will definitely put that on my list of topics to cover in the future. We would love to see how we can be of service to you. Simply call our office and Ivoire our client relations coordinator can speak with you to find out more about how we can provide you value!

  16. Thanks for the great shows. My question to amanda is with SDIRA. Once you direct your investment into real estate, does all of the money made from property have to stay in that SDIRA?

    • Hi Robert: To answer your question, If you do not want to pay taxes on the income made by the investment held in the SDIRA, then yes the money needs to go back into the SDIRA….this is because only funds generated and returned to the IRA get the tax deferred/tax free treatment. If you choose to take out some or all of the profits generated by the retirement account asset, you would just pay taxes (and potentially penalties if you are under retirement age) on the amount you take out each year.

  17. Thank you for the very informative podcast.. Amanda, you answered many of my questions regarding taxes and lots if tips and tricks on making real estate work for me.

    I am a beginner RE investor. My question is, can I claim the expenses I incurred from marketing and taking classes even if I haven’t made any income from RE? (I have a full time job and do real estate part time.) Can I carry over these expenses to next year when I can consider myself as a real estate professional?

    Thank you and I look forward to your response. Happy Holidays!

    • Hi Rye: The answer depends on what type of RE you are doing. If its strictly rental RE and you have not ever purchased any rentals in the past then it may not be deductible until you have income. You can still deduct these expenses but you just need to wait until there is income to do so. If on the other hand you are doing other types of RE for example wholesale, then you may be able to deduct these as long as you show that you “started” the business in 2013. This is a grey area but examples of a business starting could mean making multiple offers, signed contracts, etc.

      • This was always something that confused me, not an issue for me anymore, but if he wanted to hold real estate would the same stuff you said for another real estate business work for that?
        If he put in multiple offers on potential rental properties but wasn’t able to close on anything that seems to show intent of having an RE business as much as doing that for a wholesale or rehabbing one.
        I do fully understand that the tax treatment of those businesses are different but things like education I thought would be a general deduction unlike something that was property specific or would be depreciated.

        • Shaun: it would depend on the taxpayer’s risk tolerance level and if audited who is on the IRS side of the table. Essentially, if a person were to get audited it would just mean they want to have documentation to support that their rental business has started even though no income is yet generated. So the more # of offers the better, if there was at some point a signed contract during the year but it maybe fell through is also a good fact pattern. Also, if the taxpayer closed on something early the following year that would also be a good fact pattern as another example.

  18. Hi Amanda,

    Great show, I really enjoyed the episode, and good job keeping up with the quips 🙂

    I wanted to get your input on something, which I’m guessing many people would like the answer to: I am looking for a CPA/tax advisor who understands real estate and is savvy about setting up my business and my investments in such a way so that I save the most tax possible.

    I can’t seem to find anyone like that around the Chicago area, which is where most of my business takes place. I wanted to get your recommendation about that: should I hire someone like you out of California (or another state) or should I stick to the local CPAs/advisors in my area?

    Do you have anyone you can recommend in the Chicago area?

    • Hi Roy: Thanks for your email. Yes we do help a lot of out of state clients for that same exact reason that it is unfortunately not easy to find a tax strategist who specializes in real estate. Essentially more than half of our clients are out of state so we are familiar with state tax law in all states. You can call our office and speak with our client relations coordinator for more information. If you are more comfortable with someone local to you then I suggest that you ask around your local REIA to see who other people are using and who they recommend.

  19. Guys , I know this is not related to this specific podcast , but I couldn’t help dropping my first comment .
    I was going over the comments of one of the previous podcasts . A person was complaining about your style in these shows .
    I believe there are some miserable people out there !!!
    I just wanted to say that you guys are awesome . I got a tons of info and I am always laughing and entertained .
    So please please don’t change your style a bit . I love it as a lot of other members here I am sure .
    I guess thats why you are number one 🙂

  20. Brant Richardson on

    Hi Amanda,
    Great show. When the guys asked you about books I was hoping you would mention a tax book. Is there a tax book that you recommend to real estate investors as a must read?

  21. I loved the podcast, thank you for the very practical and timely information. I am working on a project house and kicked myself yesterday (January 1st) that I was buying stuff that I knew I needed in 2013 and could have been deducting, ugh!!

  22. Amanda – Just listened to this today, and definitely agree it was one of the best pod casts so far. The information about self directed IRAs alone could save me thousands of dollars, as I was considering withdrawing some funds to use for RE investments. Great tip Amanda!

    Brandon/Josh – On a separate note, I’d also like to piggyback on what @Chadi said above. You guys have a very, um, unique style, but I truly enjoy it. Don’t change a thing, unless you can find a way to harmonize better! 🙂

    Keep doing the great things you are doing. There are so many of us who value it immensely.

  23. Jennifer Moore on


    First of all I want to thank you for sharing all of your fabulous knowledge! I really enjoyed your podcast and learned some great concepts. I am a new/learning real estate investor who’s excited about getting started. My inspiration to venture into the world of real estate was also Rich Dad Poor Dad! Now, I have a question for you.

    During the discussion about the benefits of an entity you mentioned that if you are flipping, wholesaling or syndicating and it is not under an entity then you may be subject to self employment taxes as well as income taxes on the profits from these investments. What if you are flipping but also have a full time job? Will you still be charged the self employment taxes?

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Jennifer thanks for your questions. The answer to that question varies by taxpayer. For those flipping real estate, you are generally subject to SE taxes. However, how much it impacts your actual tax liability is impacted by how much money you make at your W-2 job as a portion of SE tax does phase out. If you are flipping RE and generating a healthy profit I suggest you work with your tax advisor to calculate the tax impact and then you will be able to know if an entity will benefit your specific situation.

  24. George Bittar on

    What a great podcast, I actually listened twice. Solid information to run a well oiled Real Estate business, mixed with some good humor. You guys never disappoint!

    I am not sure if the question has been raised in the forums, but for those of us who are active but in “pre-revenue” lol I am assuming we can still write off expenses if a profit has not been shown yet? I know this is a fine line between determining if this is really a legitimate business or hobby in the eyes of the IRS. My brother and launched last Aug and have ongoing marketing, mailing and misc expenses, but we have not sourced or closed our first deal yet. We do not have a legal structure and operating as individuals partnering under a DBA for now.

    Thanks in advance for any tips on this.

    • Hi George-the answer really depends on your own situation and your risk tolerance level. If you have done a lot of work (ie made a lot of offers, been in negotiations, had properties under contract, etc.) then you may be able to support you have “started business” even if no income was earned. On the other hand, even if you earned $100, that is definite proof that business has started!

  25. This was a very education podcast. Feel bad that i listened to it after the 2013 year has ended. This was more education than the CPA that i met face to face last week. I am looking or new CPA now that i realized how much the “potential” CPA does not know or advise. Someone made a comment that the show should be more serious and I totally disagree with they=t. It was fun and really educational. Would have been boring if it was made so serious. The fun that the hat and guest had during the show is what makes it top show.

  26. Hi Amanda,

    Really enjoyed the podcast. I am new to this site and am still browsing through this website. I have 4 townhomes which I purchased in the last three years. I have spent some time reviewing the confusing IRS tax regs related to real estate investing and have a few questions that I think many readers of the site could benefit from – inlcudng me :-). My questions are below. Many thanks

    1. I received a rebate (1 percent of purchase price) from my RE broker when I closed on my last property. The rebate is reflected on the HUD 1. Is this rebate considered income or a reduction in the basis of the property?

    2. After I met my deductible I received a check from my insurance company from a casulty event from some minor flooding. I did not need to perform any repairs as a result of the damage. Is the amount of my insurance proceeds considered and adjustment to my property basis?

    3. I hired a contractor to replace a HVAC Unit in 2013 which cost about $3,000. a) Should the HVAC be depreciated or considered an expense that i can take entirely in 2013? b) Do I need to send the contractor a 1099-misc form – I work full time in a job unrelated to real estate and manage the 4 townhomes on my own. I called the IRS and they informed me that I did not but I ske[tical of the teh IRS employee that stated this.

    4. I purchased a cheap laptop ($400) which I will use for my real estate business. sinc eth eprice of the laptop is very low could this amount just be expensed and allocated among my four properties or do I need to depreciate the laptop?

    I think these may be common questions that many readers of the site could benefit from. I look forward to your response.



    • Hi Dave:

      Thank you so much for your email. Here are my thoughts…of course check with your CPA.

      1. This is generally a reduction of tax basis
      2. Generally taxable income. Be sure to deduct the related casualty loss, if any.
      3. If the original unit is broken then generally expense. On the 1099///it depends on how your contractor is set-up. If they are a corp for tax purposes then no 1099 needed. Ge a W-9 to be sure.
      4. Up to you and your CPA….for me personally I would expense it.

  27. Great podcast. I was thrilled to hear the information about the SDIRA accounts. Amazing that this is not more widely spoken about. This will allow me to get started sooner, but also as a 56 year old it makes sense to defer taxes on the profits and reinvest. Great info both here and on your website.


  28. Great info on this podcast!

    Most importantly to me what was said about which entity should be used when buying & holding vs. flipping or wholesaling.

    Thanks for the info.


  29. Great podcast! The person who said the podcast is too serious is probably not getting enough sex. (My uninformed opinion not supported by the editors or special guests in the podcast.) 🙂

    Amanda, great content. What do you think the likelihood is of finding a CPA who is familiar with using a SDHSA to invest in real estate?


  30. Great podcast! Great content and very entertaining!

    Amanda, do you think I could find a CPA who understands how to use a SDHSA to invest in real estate through a local REIA?


      • Thanks Amanda. I had setup an appointment with a company called uSelfDirect / Horizon Trust. At first I thought uDirect was the same company but apparently they are different companies.

        Some posters on the BP forums seem to prefer self-directed 401ks over SD IRAs, so it looks like this may take a bit more research.

        Very helpful, thank you.

  31. Great post on CA LLC’s and taxes. This information will surely help me in my business. Hope you’ll accept my colleague request. I look forward to more amazing articles.
    Kindest regards,

  32. Wow Amanda !
    Thanks for all the great information. I have listened to the pod cast three times now and still learning.

    Thank you

    p.s. Know any CPA’s that are like minded in the Seattle area?

    • Thanks Mason…glad that you found our podcast to be helpful…especially during this time of the year when taxes are on the mind. I dont know of any CPAs up in that area but will let you know if I come across any. You can always ask your fellow investors in the local REIAs for recommendations. Or if you are ok with working with an advisor remotely feel free to call our office and speak with our client relations coordinator.

  33. Being a noob, this podcast was a little hard for me to take in. The simpler topics were very helpful, but like Mason, I will return to this podcast to learn more in depth.

    Thanks Amanda!

    • Will Stafford

      Amanda- I’m hoping that you see this. I went back and listened to your podcast for the first time. It was full of great info, so thanks! I was hoping you could clarify a couple of things:

      1) For real estate professional status, if someone has a full time job unrelated to their investment activity but that is real estate related, would they be a real estate professional? For example, an associate attorney in a real estate focused law firm? If not in that case, would the analysis change once the associate makes partner and has K-1 income and is “self employed” to some extent?

      2) You mentioned that the assignment fee paid to a wholesaler investing through their SDIRA/401k would get the preferential tax treatment. Wouldn’t that income be subject to UBIT?

      Thanks for any insight!

  34. Katie Rogers

    I noticed no mention was made of Enrolled Agents. The IRS recognizes Enrolled Agents as qualified to represent taxpayers in tax court. CPAs like to pretend they do not exist, but they are often more knowledgeable than a CPA about the tax consequences of financial decisions.

  35. David Brown

    I really enjoyed this episode. As I do all episodes. I just finished reading the book on tax strategies as well. While reading about depreciation deductions I had an idea. I apologize if this has been brought up before, also I haven’t caught up to episode 162 yet. Here’s the scenario.
    Let’s say I got a great deal and purchased a property for a really low price. I’d like to transfer it to an LLC and also get some equity out for extra cash. Considering that my purchase price was so low the depreciation deduction is also lower. Could the property be purchased for a higher price from my LLC in order to achieve the protection, equity in cash, And the higher amount of depreciation tax deduction based on the new purchase price?

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