Can You Claim an RV as a Primary Residence?

People purchase RVs (recreational vehicles) nowadays for enjoying a nomadic life for several months a year. If you love camping throughout the year, owning an RV is a great option. What about if you want to live there permanently? Can you claim an RV as a primary residence?

To get a principal residence status for an RV or boat, you need to go through detailed legal and regulatory processes. It requires the consideration of several parameters, such as RV location, motorhome attributes, motorhome size, home equity, and a few other things.

How to Declare a Primary Residence

RVs and boats can get the status of primary residence just like a brick and mortar home. It means these will comply with the same state regulations, tax rules, and insurance policy for a dwelling place.

Can you claim an RV as a primary residence? Well, there is enough data available in regards to RVs and boats being the principal residence. According to those, the USA federal government allows a resident to declare these motorhomes as a primary residence.

The US Internal Revenue Service Agency suggests that the following assets could get a primary residence status:

  • Brick and mortar or wooden houses
  • Skyscraper condominiums
  • Small cooperative societies
  • Mobile homes
  • RVs
  • Travel trailers
  • Boats

However, to get the primary residence status, the above assets must have minimal amenities like a separate sleeping area, kitchen area, and bath or washroom facility.

boat as primary residence
A boat can be the primary residence too. Photo: Billy

Can You Claim an RV as a Primary Residence? Important Points to Consider

So, it should be clear to you that it’s possible to claim an RV or a boat as the primary residence. However, the benefits, legal procedures, tax implications, and insurance criteria are vital points to consider before taking the final step.

You can have only one primary residence.

First of all, there is a thumb rule that only a single asset can get the primary residence status. The status of the existing primary residence will become invalid once you declare an RV as the primary address.

You will pay less tax with an RV.

Taxation benefits are available for an RV when it becomes the principal residence. Also, the RV doesn’t need to be stationary in a permanent location. The tax burden reduces substantially when your residential asset is an RV and not a conventional house.

RVs and boats qualify as collateral for a loan.

You can also show the same RV or boat as collateral for borrowing money to purchase the same asset. In that case, there will be additional perks like tax benefits.

It’s legal to use an RV or boat for running a business.

An RV or boat could be a place from where the residents can run a business. However, it is highly significant to note that the tax benefit will not be available in such cases. Can you claim an RV as a primary residence? Yes, but think twice if you want to use it for your business.

Laws are different from state to state.

Some local and state laws may not allow its residents to consider RVs or boats as permanent homes due to multiple zoning classification laws. However, zonal or state laws may allow prolonged living in an RV.

Living in an RV has its own challenges.

Residing in an RV or a boat is very exciting. However, you will also face the ultimate challenge that everyone faces in day to day life: handling wastes, sewage, etc.

Getting a macerator pump is the best idea for sewage and wastewater management. As the motorhome will need access to a dumping facility to remove wastes from the vehicle, think about this point before making the final decision.

Maintenance costs money.

RV or boat maintenance, repairing, plumbing works, electrical works, and others, will also cost money. Research well in the local market for the maintenance cost of a house versus a motorhome. It will give a clear idea regarding the monetary benefit of the assets.

You have to pay for the fuel costs.

Motor vehicles such as a boat or RV run on fuel: be it diesel or petrol. Hence, the car will require gasoline to move from place to place and fuel the generator that powers the RV.

The consumption of fuel will depend on the RV usage. Moving around on RVs will consume more gasoline than the stationary ones. RVs in a trailer park may get electrical power from that location if the amenity is available to you.

Having a stable Internet connection could be a challenge.

When an RV is the primary residence, getting a suitable Internet service could be hard. It’s more challenging when the vehicle is on the go. The RV might get a Wi-Fi signal for a limited time while it is around a gas station or restaurant. But constant connectivity with a high Internet speed may be unavailable. Good quality mobile network subscription or satellite phones could be an alternative if you want to visit remote locations more often.

Can you claim an RV as a primary residence
Having a stable Internet connection could be a struggle. Photo: @theindieprojects

You may not have a permanent mailing address.

Choosing an RV as the primary residence makes having a stable mailing address challenging. It may not be possible to receive all bills online, including the ones from online shopping websites, workplaces, government facilities, etc.

Therefore, while going for the RV as a residence, getting a PO Box subscription could prove cost-effective. You can get a PO Box address from the mailing agency for a nominal cost. If your RV is always on the go and it is not possible to get a PO Box subscription, the mailing address of a friend or family member will be a convenient option.

Legal Process and Dealing with State Laws

States have their own laws, as well as there are local and federal laws. All these will play a crucial role while committing to the idea of declaring an RV as the primary residence.

The domiciliary claim by someone that a state is their residential address depends on that state’s law. Visiting the local courthouse or government licensing agencies could prove beneficial to know more about the process.
Being a state resident will require complying with all state laws regarding residential rules and policies.

Conclusion

Can you claim an RV as a primary residence? Well, you have already got the answer. However, before making up your mind about making an RV or boat as the principal residence, consider the above-mentioned points.

Peter Wade is a co-ordinator and writer at www.RVTalk.net. His hobbies are coffee, RV camping and photography. He now enjoys exploring the U.S. by RV with his two dogs. After obtaining a MA degree in Public Relations and Journalism, he had 8 years of experience working for R&D Department of Outdoorsy. Peter provides a unique look and insightful knowledge about the RV lifestyle, and fills his blog with everything from RV camping guides to reviews about necessary RV accessories. If you are an RV enthusiast and want to get the most-updated trends of RV industry, Peter’s articles are the must-visit contents.

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