The IRS has data for which returns claimed rental income or losses. I got the info from the IRS taxstats pages and specifically here the 2009 figures in MS Excel . This gives us an easy way to see how many landlords there are, how many of them made money and what their adjusted gross incomes were. Let get some details out of the way, first this is just for the year 2009 and situations change somewhat year to year. Second this is just from the individual income tax returns so its based on tax figures and individuals so it doesn't capture corporations who own apartment complexes or similar businesses that wouldn't file individual income taxes.
We had about 9.8 million individual landlords in the nation which I conclude from just over 9.8 million tax filers showing rental income gains or losses.
Around 7% of people are landlords. There were around 140 million tax filers and 9.8 million claiming rental income so that equates to about 7%.
A majority of landlords lost money (on paper at least). 5.72 million or 58% of the landlords showed loses from their rentals on their tax forms. 4.15 million landlords, 42%, had gains from their rentals.
Most landlords aren't in high income brackets. Median gross income for landlords is between $50,000 to $75,000. 70% of landlords had income under $100,000 and 42% of landlords had under $50,000 in AGI.
Now lets look at some charts.
That one shows the total number of landlords in each AGI bracket.
Grouping it into some bigger buckets here we get:
There is more money flowing into (and out of ) the hands of landlords who are in the higher AGI brackets. Looking at net gain/loss per income level we get :
Note : I wouldn't make too much about the gains versus losses here as this is only the taxable numbers. We're talking about Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and gains or losses claimed on your taxes so this is not the same as cash flow and it includes 'paper losses' such as depreciation. In other words a landlord may show a loss on their tax forms due to depreciation and other deductions but actually come out ahead. Thats not uncommon given the large depreciation deduction. Also the rental loses may push a landlords total income into the loss category which is seen with a large spike of landlords who have rental losses and no taxable income.