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IRS Form 8582: Calculating Passive Activity Losses for Real Estate

Written by a TurboTax Expert • Reviewed by Miguel Burgos, CPAUpdated for Tax Year 2023 • May 23, 2024 12:53 PM
OVERVIEW

Form 8582 helps individuals who earn income from rentals or businesses in which they don't actively participate—known as passive activities—determine the losses they can deduct on their tax return for that year. Additionally, the form allows them to declare any losses from past years that they couldn't deduct before, ensuring no potential tax benefit goes unused.

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Key Takeaways

  • Form 8582 is used by noncorporate taxpayers to report passive activity losses (PALs)
  • Passive activities are typically rentals or businesses in which the taxpayer does not actively participate.
  • Losses not allowed in the current year may be carried forward to future years.
  • Modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) limits apply, capping the special allowance at $100,000 for singles and $50,000 for married filing separately.

Purpose of Form 8582

When you invest in real estate, it's not just about the rental income you receive or the properties you acquire—it's also about understanding the tax implications that come with your investments. This is where IRS Form 8582 becomes important for non-corporate taxpayers, particularly those navigating passive activity losses (PALs).

Understanding passive activities

When you invest in something like a rental property but aren't deeply involved in its day-to-day management, the IRS considers this a passive activity. It's not about how much money you've put into it; it's about how much time and effort you're contributing to the work. If you're not making most of the managerial decisions, then for tax purposes, you're usually seen as a passive participant.

What are passive activity losses?

Your investments won't always earn more than they cost to maintain. When your expenses surpass your income, you end up with what's known as passive activity losses (PALs). The tricky part is, these losses typically can only offset income from other passive sources. If you don't have any passive income this year, those losses aren't wasted—they're just deferred. You'll be able to use them down the line when you do have passive income.

Who should use Form 8582?

Any person who has income from passive activities, and incurs passive activity losses that are subject to IRS loss limitation rules, you'll need to use Form 8582.

Who falls into this category? Real estate investors with rental properties are the most common users of this form. But it's not solely for those with residential or commercial real estate holdings. Taxpayers involved in limited partnerships, S-corporations, and similarly passive business entities often find themselves needing to file Form 8582, too.

Exceptions

For exceptions, see Form 8582 Instructions page 1, right column, under “Who must file.” You'll notice: "you don’t have to file Form 8582 if you meet the following exception.", " you meet all of the following conditions," and "If all of the above conditions are met, your rental real estate losses are not limited, and you don’t need to complete Form 8582.

  • You did not actively participate in rental real estate activities.
  • Your only passive activities were from active participation in rental real estate.
  • You have no unallowed losses carried over from prior years from your active participation activities.
  • Your total loss from the rental real estate was no more than $25,000 (or $12,500 if married filing separately).
  • If married filing separately, you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year.
  • You don't have any unallowed credits from passive activities from the current or previous year.
  • Your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) was at or below $100,000 (or $50,000 if married filing separately).
  • You do not have any rental real estate interest as a limited partner, or as a beneficiary of an estate or a trust.

Filing Form 8582

Begin by gathering all relevant documents that detail your income and losses from passive activities. This includes Schedule K-1 forms from partnerships or S corporations, Schedule E for rental real estate activities, and any other pertinent financial records. You'll need these to provide an accurate account of all passive income streams and associated expenses. Once you have organized all of your documents, accurately summarize your income or losses from each passive activity. 

TurboTax Tip:

Keep detailed records of all income and expenses related to your passive activities throughout the year. This will streamline the process when it's time to fill out your Form 8582 and ensure you're taking full advantage of allowable deductions.

Calculating passive activity losses and income

To calculate your passive activity losses for tax purposes, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Identify all passive income sources: Sum up income from rental operations, limited partnerships, and other passive business activities where you have no material participation.
  • Calculate total expenses: Add up all related expenses, including mortgage interest, property taxes, maintenance, and any other deductible costs associated with your passive activities.
  • Determine the net loss: Subtract the total passive activity expenses from the total passive income to find your net passive activity loss for the tax year.
  • Document losses: Maintain thorough records and receipts as documentation for all income and expenses claimed.
  • Carry forward non-deductible losses: If your passive expenses exceed your passive income, you will have a passive activity loss to carry forward to future tax years.

Using the Activity Loss Carryover Worksheet

The IRS provides the Activity Loss Carryover Worksheet in the instructions for Form 8582. You can download this worksheet from the IRS website. You should use this worksheet if you have passive activity losses that were not fully deductible in the prior year and need to calculate how much can be carried over to the current tax year.

To fill out the Activity Loss Carryover Worksheet, follow these steps:

  • Review Previous Year Returns: Start by reviewing your tax returns from previous years to identify any passive losses that were not deductible and had to be carried over.
  • Enter Prior Year Losses on the Worksheet: List your undeducted passive losses from prior years, starting with the oldest losses first.
  • Adjust for Current Year Income: If you had any passive income in the current year, adjust your losses to reflect the income against which they may be claimed.
  • Calculate Current Year Carryover: Determine the adjusted total of passive losses that can be carried over to the current year after the adjustments for income.
  • Apply Losses According to Limits: Follow IRS rules on loss limitations to calculate how much of the carried over losses can be applied in the current year.
  • Document for Future Usage: Keep a copy of the completed Activity Loss Carryover Worksheet with your tax records for reference in future years.

Understanding At-Risk Limitations

The At-Risk Limitations  are IRS regulations that limit loss deductions to the amount you're actually at risk of losing in an investment, like a rental property. "At risk" refers to your own money, certain personal loans, and other amounts you're personally liable for if the investment fails. These rules aim to align tax deductions with real financial risk and prevent excessive loss claims.

Let's say your rental property generates less income than it costs to maintain. You'd normally want to deduct those losses to lower your taxable income, right? Well, the At-Risk rules limit your deduction to the amount you might actually lose—the money you've put into the property and are responsible for. This is meant to prevent taxpayers from claiming overly large losses that don't correspond to real financial risk.

So, if you've invested $10,000 of your own money into a property and you've also taken out a $5,000 loan for which you're personally liable, your total at-risk amount is $15,000. That's the maximum loss you can deduct in your tax return for the year with respect to that investment.

IRS rules on claiming passive losses

The IRS has several rules about how and when passive losses can be used in the context of real estate. Here are several examples. Keep in mind that these are high-level overviews of the rules, and each situation may carry additional provisions or exceptions. You’ll want to consult with a tax professional to guide you through these rules based on your specific circumstances.

Passive loss limitations

Typically, passive losses can only offset passive income—like that from rental properties or other business activities in which you're not materially involved. If your passive losses exceed your passive income, you can carry them forward to offset passive income in future years.

Suspension of losses

When you find yourself in a situation where your passive losses exceed your passive income, the IRS rules prevent you from deducting these losses in the current year. Instead, these losses are suspended, meaning they aren't lost but are held off or "carried forward" to be used in future tax years. 

This carryforward process is indefinite—there is no expiration on these suspended losses. You can apply them to offset passive income you may generate down the line, which could potentially ease your tax burden in more prosperous years when your passive income streams are flowing more abundantly. Being savvy about when and how to apply these suspended losses can be a strategic part of your long-term tax planning.

Real estate professionals special allowance

If you qualify as a real estate professional by IRS standards (spending more than half of your working hours and over 750 hours each year in real property businesses in which you materially participate), your losses may not be considered passive and can generally be deducted against other income without limitation.

If you don't qualify as a real estate professional but still actively participate in your rental real estate activities, you might be eligible for the special allowance. This allows you, as an active participant, to deduct up to $25,000 against non-passive income. It's important for you to have a hand in decision-making or supervising maintenance to claim this benefit.  These deductions are gradually reduced and phased out completely once your MAGI reaches $150,000.

Disposition of property

If you sell a passive activity property at a gain, you may use any suspended passive losses from that property to offset the taxable gain. This potentially reduces your overall tax liability associated with the sale and softens the financial impact of capital gains.

Retirement and withdrawals

The IRS typically classifies retirement account distributions as non-passive income. That means any passive losses you may have accrued from rental properties or other passive activities cannot be used to offset these retirement distributions. Any suspended passive losses that you've carried over from previous years remain on hold, waiting to be applied against future passive income.

FAQ about Form 8582 and passive losses

Can passive losses offset capital gains?

No, passive losses generally cannot offset capital gains. Passive losses can only offset passive income. If a passive activity generates losses, those losses are only deductible against income generated from other passive activities. Capital gains are considered portfolio income, and thus, are not offset by passive losses under normal tax rules.

What is an unallowed loss?

An unallowed loss is a passive activity loss that exceeds passive activity income for the year. Since the passive activity loss rules do not permit a loss in excess of income, the excess is carried forward to the next tax year. It may potentially be deducted against passive income in subsequent years, subject to the same passive activity loss limitations.

What is non-passive income?

Non-passive income encompasses the earnings an individual actively works to receive, including wages, business income where the taxpayer materially participates, portfolio income such as interest, dividends, capital gains, and any other income that doesn't meet the IRS definition of passive income. 

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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  • Audit Support Guarantee – Individual Returns: If you receive an audit letter from the IRS or State Department of Revenue based on your 2023 TurboTax individual tax return, we will provide one-on-one question-and-answer support with a tax professional, if requested through our Audit Report Center, for audited individual returns filed with TurboTax Desktop for the current 2023 tax year and, for individual, non-business returns, for the past two tax years (2021, 2022). Audit support is informational only. We will not represent you before the IRS or state tax authority or provide legal advice. If we are not able to connect you to one of our tax professionals, we will refund the applicable TurboTax federal and/or state license purchase price you paid. This guarantee is good for the lifetime of your personal, individual tax return, which Intuit defines as seven years from the date you filed it with TurboTax Desktop. Excludes TurboTax Desktop Business returns. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TurboTax Desktop Business Returns:

  • 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Business Returns: If you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, we’ll pay you the penalty and interest. Excludes payment plans. You are responsible for paying any additional tax liability you may owe. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee – Business Returns: If you get a smaller tax due (or larger business tax refund) from another tax preparation method using the same data, TurboTax will refund the applicable TurboTax Business Desktop license purchase price you paid. Additional terms and limitations apply. See License Agreement for details.

  • Satisfaction Guarantee/ 60-Day Money Back Guarantee: If you're not completely satisfied with TurboTax Desktop, go to refundrequest.intuit.com within 60 days of purchase and follow the process listed to submit a refund request. You must return this product using your license code or order number and dated receipt.

TURBOTAX DESKTOP

  • Installation Requirements: Product download, installation and activation requires an Intuit Account and internet connection. Product limited to one account per license code. You must accept the TurboTax License Agreement to use this product. Not for use by paid preparers.

  • TurboTax Desktop Products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees may apply for e-filing state returns. E-file fees may not apply in certain states, check here for details. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase. Software updates and optional online features require internet connectivity.

  • Fastest Refund Possible: Fastest federal tax refund with e-file and direct deposit; tax refund time frames will vary. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

  • Average Refund Amount: Sum of $3140 is the average refund American taxpayers received based upon IRS data date ending 02/17/23 and may not reflect actual refund amount received.

  • TurboTax Product Support: Customer service and product support hours and options vary by time of year.

  • #1 Best Selling Tax Software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2022 TurboTax products.

  • Deduct From Your Federal or State Refund (if applicable): A $40 Refund Processing Service fee may apply to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.

  • Data Import: Imports financial data from participating companies; Requires Intuit Account. Quicken and QuickBooks import not available with TurboTax installed on a Mac. Imports from Quicken (2021 and higher) and QuickBooks Desktop (2021 and higher); both Windows only. Quicken import not available for TurboTax Desktop Business. Quicken products provided by Quicken Inc., Quicken import subject to change.

  • Audit Defense: Audit Defense is a third-party add-on service provided, for a fee, by TaxResources, Inc., dba Tax Audit. See Membership Agreements at https://turbotax.intuit.com/corp/softwarelicense/ for service terms and conditions.

All features, services, support, prices, offers, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

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