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What does it mean to own property in the UAE?

Owning property in the UAE for a US citizen means they must report any rental income generated from that property on their US tax return, regardless of where the property is located. Additionally, they can deduct certain expenses related to the property to offset the rental income, potentially affecting their net taxable income on the US return.

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Do I need to report rental income from my UAE property?

Yes. Rental income generated from a property in the UAE must be reported on your 1040 Individual US tax return and Form 8858. Fortunately, property-related expenses—such as maintenance costs, property management fees, and others—can offset the rental income, potentially reducing the taxable amount. 

If the property generates net income, this income is taxable in the US. Conversely, a net loss could be carried forward, offering potential tax relief in future years, depending on the individual’s tax situation.

Will the IRS tax my rental income?

Non-US rental income certainly forms part of your overall worldwide income. Paying tax on that income will depend on several factors, the main factors being your other income streams and your overall income for the year.

What is the difference between living in my property vs. renting it out?

While residing in your property eliminates potential rental income tax liabilities, it also disqualifies you from claiming housing expense deductions available under the foreign-earned income exclusion. 

Additionally, mortgage interest deductions, while still applicable, may not offer as significant a tax benefit as the housing expense deduction.

What if I want to sell my property?

US tax law allows individuals to exclude a portion of the gain from the sale of a property, provided it was their principal residence for two out of the last five years. 

The exclusion amount varies based on filing status—up to US$500,000 for married filing jointly and US$250,000 for single filers or married filing separately. 

For US citizens living in the UAE, strategic tax planning can help maximize benefits, reduce liabilities, and ensure compliance with US tax laws. Whether it’s deciding to rent out a property, choosing to live in it, or planning for a future sale, US expatriates should consider consulting with a tax professional to navigate these complex issues effectively.

Why partner with a specialist Expat accountant?

Living outside of the US can make your tax filing requirements complicated. To ensure you pay the minimum amount of taxes, it’s critical to work with an accountant who understands every aspect and avenue for reducing your tax liability. We have a dedicated team of tax accountants who work exclusively with US expats earning and investing in the UAE. Partnering with a specialist expat accountant can help you navigate complex tax regulations and optimize your tax situation.


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