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Pocket some tax-free cash by being a short-term landlord

It's been a good couple of years for Philadelphia tourism officials and for folks who rented out their homes to the city's visitors.

Independence-Hall-Philadelphia_from-montage-by-Jleon_WikipediaIndependence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Founding Fathers debated and adopted both the U.S. Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Click image for a montage of other notable Philly sites. (Photo by J. Leon via Wikipedia)

Last September, Pope Francis included the City of Brotherly Love in his U.S. visit itinerary. This week, the Democratic National Convention has taken over Philly.

Making money-making space: When big events like these are held, many full-time residents decide to literally get out of town to avoid the craziness that accompanies the influx of visitors. In some cases, however, their homes are not vacant.

They rent them to the out-of-towners.

Being a diligent short-term landlord has several benefits.

Your home remains occupied, meaning you don't have to worry about burglars taking advantage of your absence.

You get some extra cash, often a lot depending on how popular with visitors the event that you're evading is.

And if you follow the U.S. tax rules, the money you make on your short-term rental is tax-free.

14-day rental tax advantage: The key here is the duration of your temporary lease. If you rent your home or your second home for less than two full weeks a year, that money is not taxable.

Folks in Philly got lucky. Two big events, bringing in lots of visitors who might prefer staying at in a real residence instead of a Residence Inn, in two different tax years. That gave them 14 days in 2015 and 14 more this year, meaning they didn't have to worry so much about possibly busting the tax-free rental limit and owing taxes on the income.

There are, of course, other potential tax complications, especially when it's a second property, like a vacation home, that's being leased. But even then, as long as you follow the Internal Revenue Service rules, you can make some extra cash and minimize any tax cost.

The latest Weekly Tax Tip featured over at Bankrate has the short-term rental tax details.

After you check it out, look at your area's tourism calendar and see if you might be able to pocket some tax-free rent from visitors to an upcoming event near you.

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Some good food for thought in there - makes sense.

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