Many real estate brokers and agents practically live on their mobile phones. Thus, how they are treated for tax purposes is of little importance.

This week the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance that is of great interest to employees who are provided mobile phones or similar devices by their employers. Unfortunately, it does nothing for the vast majority of real estate agents and brokers who are self-employed (not employees).

In the past, the IRS treated mobile phones as "listed property." Whenever an employer provided an employee with a mobile phone, he or she had to keep track of how it was used — whether for business or personal use.

Any personal use of the mobile phone had to be valued and added to the employee’s taxable compensation.

Starting in 2009, mobile phones were no longer classified as listed property, and the IRS has decided that it is no longer necessary to keep records of how a mobile phone is used by an employee so long as it is used primarily for noncompensatory business reasons.

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