Homestay Tax Questions

Is your host family stipend taxable? Learn everything you need to know about taxes and hosting international students below!

As required by law, those who receive stipend payments in excess of $600/year will receive an IRS 1099-MISC form from StudentRoomStay (SRS). The form will identify your total receipts over the course of a calendar year, if you hosted more than once you will receive only one, with a grand total of your stipends. This is the gross receipts for your service as a homestay host, not your taxable income from hosting. The IRS and state and local authorities will tax you net income, which means you take your gross stipend, deduct the expenses directly associated with hosting and then declare the balance as taxable income. 

Most hosts will declare these expenses/adjustments on Schedule C of your 1040. This is the form commonly used for personal business income. While you don’t have to be a business to be a homestay host, Schedule C provides the easiest way to report your host expenses and declare your net taxable income. The bottom line gain (or loss) is then transferred to your 1040 as taxable income.

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Where are deductible expenses for homestay?

The expenses come from the cost of doing business as a homestay host. The IRS has provisions that state these costs are exclusive to the hosting and not things you do in normal home life.  You should keep a log of these for later referral at tax preparation time. Here are some ideas of deductions you can take to reduce your income:

  • Computers, cameras, furniture, etc. purchased exclusively for hosting.
  • External, contracted labor for who may help with cooking, cleaning, language tutoring, etc.
  • Auto expenses using the IRS mileage deduction ($0.57.5 in 2020).  This is for expenses directly related to hosting and can include tolls and parking.
  • Related education expenses for you (education deemed necessary to run a hosting business.)
  • Meals related to the business.
  • Personal and household items used exclusively in the business.
  • Tax services, legal, planning, insurance, etc. may be deductible and you should consult a tax advisor.
  • Home office, including a % of all utilities, internet, mortgage/rent, phone.
  • % of all home expenses relative to the square footage of the rented room/dedicated bathroom OR a per capita split of all expenses (you can use whatever is larger.)
  • Food expenses and personal supplies provided to the guest.
  • Business-related travel.

Note: A mileage log should be kept current and must be extemporaneous meaning you cannot go back and recreate if you are audited. You must have a business purpose for every mile claimed and deducted at the time the deduction is taken.

Key to these deductions is the exclusive use in the hosting or in the management of your homestay business.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • You drive your family and your guest to get ice cream; because the outing is for everyone, the mileage is not deductible.  The ice cream to the guest is. If you drive only the guest to get ice cream as part of your meal obligation, you can charge mileage and the guest’s ice cream, not your own ice cream.
  • If you run out of salt and have to go to the store to restock an item used by everyone in your household, that mileage is not deductible.  If you run out of a particular spice that is used exclusively in the preparation of meals for the guest, that mileage is deductible.
  • At no point is a personal hourly wage to you, the business owner, deductible but if you pay your neighbor $10 to drive your guest to school, that service fee is.
  • If you dedicate an office area exclusively to manage your homestay enterprise, that square footage can be added to your percentage of deductible area, but it must be exclusive.  If you buy a file cabinet to store receipts, that expense can be deducted if that cabinet is dedicated to homestay use.

What if expenses are greater than income?

The intent of the Stipend is to compensate you for your costs of hosting a student. This amount is adjusted for the cost of living in your area. Since students you are hosting are paying both tuition to the schools and room and board to you, the tax law states that the room and board are income to you the host. Defining homestay as a business is for tax purposes and doesn’t re-define your home as a place business or require you get any extra licenses. Your stipend, for tax purposes is defined as GROSS income. Don’t panic, as a business you just pay taxes on the NET income, which is the amount after you itemize your homestay deductions and expenses. 

In short, don’t panic when you get that 1099 at the end of the year…

At the end of the year, SRS will send you an IRS form 1099, which is a statement of your GROSS stipend (payments). As we stated above, this is not the amount to report, you report the NET proceeds as income on your taxes. For most people, that means filing a Schedule C to your 1040. It is a one page worksheet in which you report your expenses by category.

And meanwhile, working with SRS means you get the advantage of a fully-managed homestay process, not a company that drops a student into your house and then goes hands-off to avoid all liability. SRS stays with you 24/7, as long as the student is with you – insured, supported, and fully engaged. We manage all billing, pay you directly every 2 weeks, and do all we can to ensure you want to keep hosting with us because you love the experience. You also get to sleep well at night knowing you are above scrutiny by the law and the IRS, a little cash-richer and a little taxable income poorer. Sleep tight!

But just to be sure you sleep tight, we remind you that every situation is different, don’t rely exclusively on this and you should consult your tax advisor.

*The above information is provided to help our hosts to better understand the 1099 form. SRS does not guarantee the accuracy and applicability of such information. SRS is not qualified to provide any tax related advice and shall not be held liable for the information shared herein. Hosts shall consult with a qualified professional for their tax matters.