How to Tax Security Deposits – Rental Income

Taxes on Security Deposits and Key Money for Landlords

Renting out a property offers a steady income stream, but tax implications can be confusing. This article clarifies how taxes work for non-adjustable amounts you receive as a landlord, like security deposits or token money.

Security Deposits vs. Regular Rent: A Tax Distinction

Unlike regular monthly rent that’s fully taxed in the year it’s received, security deposits and token money (refundable upfront payments) are treated differently. The tax burden is spread out over 10 years, providing a more manageable tax impact.


Let’s say you receive a security deposit of Rs. 2,000 from a new tenant. Here’s how the tax implications unfold:

  • Year 1: You’ll report Rs. 200 (1/10th of the deposit) as taxable income on your tax return.
  • Years 2-10: You’ll continue reporting Rs. 200 per year as income for the remaining 9 years.

Early Move-Out and Refunds: Tax Adjustments

If your tenant leaves early and receives a full refund of the security deposit, the tax picture changes. You won’t pay taxes on the years you didn’t benefit from the deposit.


Continuing from the previous scenario, suppose the tenant moves out after 5 years and receives a full Rs. 2,000 refund. Here’s the revised tax impact:

  • Years 1-5: You’ve already reported Rs. 1,000 (5 years x Rs. 200/year) as income.
  • Years 6-10: Since the deposit is no longer in your possession, you won’t report any further income from it.

New Tenant, New Deposit, and Tax Implications

If you find a new tenant and receive another upfront payment, things get a bit more nuanced. The taxman considers the already-taxed portion of the original amount. Only the remaining amount is taxed over 10 years.


Imagine you receive a security deposit of Rs. 2,000 from a new tenant. However, you’ve already reported $1,000 as income from the previous tenant’s deposit (refer to the early move-out example).

  • In this case, only the remaining Rs. 1,000 of the new deposit is considered taxable income.
  • This Rs. 1,000 is then spread out over 10 years, meaning you’ll report Rs. 100 per year for the next 10 years.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Remember, this is a simplified explanation. Tax laws can vary depending on your location. Consulting a qualified tax professional is highly recommended to ensure you’re following the rules and maximizing your tax benefits based on your specific circumstances. They can help you navigate complex scenarios, including partial refunds, deductions for repairs using the security deposit, and specific tax regulations.

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