Investors: Start Considering Holiday Appreciation Gifts NOW

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Can you believe that it’s November already?

Now, I know it is still a tad bit early for this, but I am one of those people who loves Christmas, so I am already looking forward to getting all of the Christmas decorations out of the attic to display throughout the house. Unfortunately, one of my husband’s “house rules” is that I cannot start Christmas decorating until the day after Thanksgiving. He can’t dictate what I write about on BiggerPockets though, right?

So today, I want to get a head start on holiday spirit and look at some fun things to consider as you look ahead to your holiday shopping list.

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Holding Gifting

As a CPA and real estate investor, I am always looking for ways to link up my holiday gifting with potential ways to minimize my taxes and build wealth. Whether it’s with your clients, tenants, or management team, small tokens of appreciation can go a long way. During the holiday season, one of the things that I do is make a list of all of the people who helped me in my financial wealth building during the year.

Related: 12 Unique Gifts for the (Smart, Talented, & Good Looking) Real Estate Professional in Your Life

For me, that list would include my coworkers, my tenants (only the good ones), my clients, my property managers, my lenders, and my advisors. Even small gift cards or a box of chocolate to wish them a happy holiday can help to build a strong relationship. You never know when the next time will be that you need your lender to drop everything to get you approved for a loan on a great deal that you come across.

A Small Gift Goes a Long Way

Early this year, I met a lady named Karen who was referred to me by an existing client. Karen told me that she was visiting her friend Nancy for the holidays, and during the visit, Nancy’s daughter kept on playing with what looked like a credit card. When Karen asked Nancy’s daughter what she was playing with, the girl proudly announced that it was a “gift from her CPA and was filled with money to be spent at the toy store.”

Karen was so impressed that a CPA would provide a gift to a client’s child for the holidays, when her own CPA did not even seem to know that she had kids. That was when Karen decided to ask Nancy for the contact info of her CPA. It was one of the sweetest stories that I had heard in an initial meeting with a client. Not only did my gift card bring such fun and happiness to a little girl, but it also brought me another wonderful client referral. All it cost me was a $15 gift card.

The added bonus to all this was that the gift card itself was a tax write-off for me (of course), since it was related to my business.

If you have some good tenants whose lease may be coming due soon, consider doing something nice for them before the end of the year. For example, one of my favorite tenants is a professor at a local college. She had been a tenant of ours for just under two years, when she told us that for the holidays she was going to be adopting a puppy from the local shelter. Since I wanted to do something nice for her and her new puppy for the holidays, I had my property manager install a doggy door for her.

This way, the puppy could go freely in and out of the house, and in addition, I could minimize my risk of puppy accidents on the carpet. Not only was this a tax deductible expense for me, but I also built some goodwill with this tenant by making her life a little more convenient. I’m happy to say that it’s been almost 5 years now, and professor and puppy are still happily residing in the same property.

Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself

Of course, don’t forget about yourself during the holiday season, either. This is the time to make a list of things that you want for your wish list as well. A great tip is to go down that list and check off any items that may be used in your real estate business and pay for those items with your business check or credit card.

Related: Attracting Tenants with Incentives or Gifts

For example, it may finally be time to buy that larger monitor, so that you can review your property management report online without having to use your reading glasses. Or this may finally be the year that you buy an iPad of your own to use for real estate (since your kids seemed to have taken possession of your other iPad and loaded it with their games). Maybe you are considering attending that real estate investing conference in Hawaii next year.

If so, these may be some fun holiday purchases that can be legitimate tax write-offs at the same time!

Will you be treating others (and yourself) this holiday season? What gifts have you found are received well?

Leave your comments and tips below!

About Author

Amanda Han

Amanda Han of Keystone CPA is a tax strategist who specializes in creating cutting-edge tax saving strategies for real estate investors. As real estate investors herself, Amanda has an in-depth understanding of the various aspects of investing including taxation, self-directed investing, entity structuring, and money-raising.

10 Comments

  1. Jerry W.

    Amanda, I really enjoy your posts. They are a wonderful combination of common sense and excellent tax advice. I have not gifted anyone this year or even recently, and in hindsight I need to do that. I have a banker that has done an excellent job on financing several properties, a hard working realtor who also manages some apartments for me, and of course my handyman who I could not keep up on properties without him. I also have some tenants who have been very good about paying on the day rent is due and even tracking me down if I am not in the office. Some even ask to borrow a ladder to clean out leaves from rain gutters. Any advice on what what is appropriate for each class of gift? I assume it would be frowned upon to get anything too extravagant for a banker as it may look like I am trying to influence peddle, but the rest would be my own discretion.

    • Amanda Han

      Thanks for you nice comment Jerry. Its hard for me to define “appropriate”…haahaa. I feel it just depends on your relationship with each of these people. In terms of the IRS and tax deductions, the gift must be reasonable of course…so it is probably reasonable to gift your handyman a set of tools or home depot gift card…may not be reasonable for you to gift his wife a $5,000 leather purse?

  2. Frankie Woods

    Amanda, great article. I’ve always known little gifts go a long way at the office, but I honestly never even considered doing it in my R.E. business. Such a wonderful idea! I will definitely be sending some goodies to my team, which has been amazing, this year. I can’t wait! Happy investing!

  3. Richard G.

    Interesting read Amanda and just in time for the holidays!!

    I am curious to know if it makes sense for holiday gifts without necessarily having a licensed business (for the new investors out there) I would assume that you would have to have some type of licensed business name to take advantage of this? Please correct me if I am wrong or would this apply to both the novice investor and seasoned investor, I would definitely like to advise some of the young investors I talk to on a daily basis. Thanks as always!!

    • Amanda Han

      Hi Richard: Having a legal entity or having a “license” is not the most important part of the equation in terms of making it a business deduction. In the eyes of the IRS, business deduction means that an expense is ordinary and necessary in order for you to generate profit. So for example if a new investor made a bit of money on a wholesale deal in 2014 in his personal name (ie no entity) and he decides to give a small gift to the person who found him the buyer, that could be a legitimate business expense. Thanks for reading!

  4. jen kurtz

    I really think small gestures can go a long way! It really just makes others feel good to know someone else thinks about them once in awhile, other than when receiving a rent check (in which no thank you is typically received unless handed in in person). Psychologically, it creates a relationship, and customer service, along with appreciation keeps customers. Tenants are still customers! 🙂

  5. Shaun Reilly

    With close relatives (Parents, inlaws etc.) for the holidays I usually ask for business related things (Usually educational items like books or audio books, sometimes office equipment like a new printer etc.) and for the original receipt and deduct the item on my taxes.

    Also doggy door: Expense or depreciation? 🙂

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