An unusual tax break that's available to homeowners around the nation, including Phoenix-area residents who rent their homes for spring training baseball games or other special events, apparently has its roots in the Masters golf tournament.
Origins of the tax break stem from lobbying by affluent residents who lived near the Masters course in Augusta, Georgia, during the 1970s, when the rule was created by Congress. So says a report this week by the Tax Foundation, as the Masters tournament is underway.
The rule allows homeowners to earn tax-free income on homes rented for 14 or fewer days. It's available to any homeowners, not just those living in areas hosting major sporting events.
Locally, for example, the provision can shelter income for people who rent their homes for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Barrett-Jackson car auction, part of the spring-training baseball schedule or at other times.
Residents of Los Angeles and other Olympics-hosting U.S. cities also have used it.
For longer periods of 15 days and up, residential rental income is taxable, though property owners may deduct various relevant expenses including mortgage interest, real estate taxes, repairs, maintenance and so on.
So how does this real estate tax break connect to golf?
"The story goes that when Congress debated the taxation of rental income in the 1970s and which deductions should be allowed, the well-to-do residents of Augusta, Georgia, lobbied to have this exemption added," wrote Nicole Kaeding, a Tax Foundation vice president.
They previously had been allowed to collect the rent tax-free, and they wanted that treatment to continue."
According to Kaeding, Augusta residents often rent their properties for the tournament, then leave town for a spring vacation. Rents in Augusta can be hefty during tournament week, such as $9,000 to $11,000 for a five-bedroom house near the course.