Technically, yes, you should include the rental income as part your gross income on your tax return. Internal Revenue Code sec. 61(a)(5) specifically states "gross income means all income from whatever source derived, including (but not limited to) the following items:....(5) rent;"
Depending on your circumstances, such as if you are regularly renting out rooms and have a rental business, you might be able to offset the income with some expenses; but in any case, it is gross income under federal law.
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Rental income is income, but you actually have to receive it as a cash basis taxpayer. If you do not receive rent for any period, you do not have rental income despite the fact that there might be a rental agreement technically in place. As a cash basis taxpayer, you will generally recognize income when it is received, and rental income will technically be income despite the fact that many people fail to disclose it.
You can't get any better answer than the ones given by my two colleagues.
If you are going to have rental income and report it properly, taking advantage of any legitimate deduction, I suggest you have an accountant prepare your tax return.
Mr. Huddleston is an Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Columbus and Dayton, serving client families throughout Ohio. He may be contacted directly by phone toll-free at 888.488.7878 or by email CLH@HUDDLAW.COM.
Mr. Huddleston responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but his responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship.