US IRS and MEXICO'S TAX RULES YOU MUST FOLLOW
WHEN YOU OWN AND RENT OUT PROPERTY IN MEXICO
By Don D. Nelson, International Tax Attorney
Kauffman Nelson LLP CPAs
over 35 years experience helping Americans living and working in Mexico
When you are renting out your real property in Mexico, as a
US Citizen or permanent resident, you must not only comply with all Mexican
tax requirements but you must also comply with the Internal Revenue
Service's US income tax return filing requirements. The rules are almost
the same as those for rental property located in the US, but with some
- If you own the Mexican rental property through a
Fideicomiso, or outright in your individual name, you report all of
your rental income and expenses on Schedule E of your Form
1040. All of the allowable expenses are the same as for US
- Expenses you can deduct include management
fees, interest, property taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance,
association dues, insurance, depreciation, and other miscellaneous
expenses. In Mexico (one your Mexican tax return for the rental
income) if you are a permanent resident of Mexico you can deduct the same
expenses essentially. If you are a nonresident owner the income taxes are
charged on gross rental income at a flat rate of 25%
- Unlike property located in the US, you must
depreciate the property (amount allocatable to the structure) over a 40
year period rather than shorter times sometimes allowed for US property.
- You can take a credit against your US federal income
tax for income taxes paid to Mexico on your net rental income after
deducting all expenses. That credit is limited to the amount of US
Federal tax you paid on that rental income on your tax return. Any
unused foreign tax credit can be carried over to future year. Most
states do not allow any credit for income taxes paid foreign countries.
That credit can be taken for Mexican income taxes and any income tax
imposed by a State in Mexico. That state tax income is 3% in Baja
California Sur. Some states in Mexico have no income tax.
- Any IVA or occupancy tax collected from the renter
should be included in your rental income, but then you can deduct out
those taxes so you do not have to pay any tax on those items. IVA in
the Baja California is 11% and 16% in much of the rest of Mexico.
- The same restrictions and limited allowable
deductions for “vacation homes” apply when you have occupied the
property yourself part of the time and rented it out to third parties at
- When the property is sold (if it is held in your
individual name or in a Fideicomiso) your net gain is taxed in the US
at the applicable lower capital gains rates, and you can claim a credit
against your US tax on the sale for Mexican capital gains taxes paid on
that profit to Mexico.
If the property was used for the 2 years during the previous 5 years prior
to sale as your personal primary residence (you must actually live in it
full time during that period), you may be able to exclude up to $500,000 of
the gain from your US income taxes under the exclusion allowed for sales of
personal residences. If the property was rented out part of that time, some
of the gain on sale will be subject to US income tax.
If your Mexican property is held through a Mexican corporation, there can be
adverse US tax consequences while renting out the property and upon sale on
your US tax return. With the proper type of Mexican corporation, certain
elections with the IRS can be made for US tax purposes which will negate
almost of these US tax problems. These elections are only made for US tax
purposes and do not in any way affect the way your Mexican corporation is
taxed under Mexican law.
Other US Tax Forms That May be Required:
Form 5471: If your Mexican real estate is held in a Mexican
corporation, you must file this form each year if you own 10% or more of the
shares (actually or constructively) in the corporation. This form is due on
the extended due date of your personal return. The IRS can impose a $10,000
per year penalty for filing this form late or not at all.
Form 114: This form reports your ownership in foreign
bank and other financial accounts. It would include any accounts where
your property manager or accountant is using to collect rents or pay
Mexican taxes and rentals. If the highest total of all of your foreign
financial and bank accounts when combined together equal or exceed at
any time $10,000 US per year, you must file this form to report details
of all accounts. It is filed separately from your tax return and is due
on June 30th following the end of each calendar year. The due
date cannot be extended. The IRS can impose a $10,000 penalty for filing
the form late or not at all.
Mexico Also Taxes Your Rental Income:
imposes income taxes, IVA and other taxes on all rental income derived by
Landlords from renting properties in Mexico. You must pay these taxes even if
you do not live in Mexico. The rules are complex and failure to comply with
those rules can result in serious monetary and other problems with the Mexican
taxing authorities. We recommend you contact a Mexican accountant, or rental
property tax expert to learn what it takes to be in legal compliance with those
Mexican tax laws.
We have been providing Tax Services to US Citizens in Mexico for over 35
years including the following:
- US Tax Planning for the purchase and sale of Property in Mexico
- Preparation of US IRS required forms for Mexican Corporations,
and Mexican Bank & Financial Accounts
- Structuring Mexican Real Estate Transactions to achieve the
optimum US Income Tax Result.
- Preparation of IRS and State Income Tax Returns for US
Expatriates living and/or working in Mexico