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Filing Tax Schedule E for Supplemental Income or Losses

written by: John Garger•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 10/17/2010

Schedule E of the Federal Income Tax form 1040 is used to figure Supplemental Income and Loss tax liability. Learn who must file Schedule E to the IRS and how it differs from other forms such as Schedules C and SE.

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    The various schedules included in Federal Income Tax form 1040 are used to figure and report taxable income from a variety of sources. Some forms, like Schedule C, need to be filed for those operating a sole proprietorship business. However, not all income fits into neat categories. Schedule E is designed to allow tax payers to declare and report income from a variety of sources including royalties, real estate rentals, and monies received from S Corporations and partnerships.

    Supplemental income and losses are reported on Schedule E of the 1040 tax form. The first part of the form is used to report income from rent and royalties as well as expenses from these activities such as advertising, auto travel, commissions, insurance, and mortgage interest. In the second part, the tax payer figures taxable income from ownership of S Corporations and Partnerships. The third, and final, section figures taxable income from income or losses from estates and trusts.

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    Who Must File Schedule E

    Tax payers with supplemental income must file Schedule E to properly declare profits and losses from other sources of income not covered on the 1040 form or in its various other schedules. Supplemental income may be in the form of rents received from real property, royalties received from ownership and rental of copyrighted material, and ownership of an S Corporation or Partnership. Unlike a sole proprietor who must file Schedules C or C-EZ, ownership of an S Corporation or Partnership represents only part ownership. Sole proprietor income from operation of a business is treated as personal income for the one owner.

    Also included in Schedule E is income from passive activities. A passive activity is defined as:

    “...any business activity in which you did not material participate and any rental activity…"

    Limited partners in a partnership organizational structure are not considered to have materially participated in the conduction of business. Similarly, rental of real or personal property does not constitute material participation and falls under the passive activity definition above. Exceptions are possible, however. Some rental of property can be classified as a business or trade and, therefore, Form 8582 should be used to determine whether the tax payer is considered to have materially participated in the creation of the income or loss.

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    Not all income falls into neat categories onto the 1040 or its various Schedules. Schedule E is specifically designed for tax payers whose income partially comes from supplemental sources. One of the key aspects to whether tax payers need to file Schedule E is material participation in a business. Business owners filing Schedules C or C-EZ are certainly considered to have participated extensively in the running of the business. The situation becomes fuzzy for owners of S Corporations and Partnerships and those who receive income from rental property.

    Always consult with a tax professional for questions about your tax liability.