As the owner of investment properties large and small alike, there’s a vehicle available in which you can actually continuously invest into larger properties and delay the capital gains expenditure that is due to reveal itself at some point. This vehicle is called a 1031 Exchange.
According to the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 1031), a 1031 Exchange allows a taxpayer to defer the assessment of any capital gains tax and any related federal tax liability on the exchange of certain types of properties. In 1979, federal courts allowed this code to be expanded to not only sell real estate but also to continuously purchase within a specific timeframe with no liability assessed as that time.
In addition, these exchanges must be utilized for productive use in business or investment. Prior to 2018, properties listed under the code included stocks and bonds and other types of properties. However, as of today, the 1031 Exchange only includes real property which makes this excellent for investors.
1031 Exchange Rules Explained
There are 7 primary 1031 Exchange rules which require a deeper study:
- Like-kind property
- Only for Investment or Business Intentions
- Greater or Equal Value Replacement Property Rule
- “Boot” is denied
- Same taxpayer rule
- 45 day identification window
- 180 day purchase window
1031 Exchange Rules Explained
According to the IRS, each property must be utilized in trade or business for investment purposes. Keep in mind that property used personally, like personal residences or second homes, will not qualify for the 1031 Exchange opportunity.
However, real property, most commonly known as real estate, does include land and anything attached to the land or anything built upon it, or an exchange of such property held primarily for sale does not meet the requirements for the utilization of a like-kind exchange.
Only for Investment or Business Intentions
To meet the criteria for a 1031 Exchange, the real estate must be utilized for investment or business purposes only. The investment vehicle must be property that is not considered a primary residence but is used to generate income and profits through appreciation and that can take advantage of certain tax benefits.
For example, real property identified for investment purposes can be any property that is held for the production of income, whether it be a rental for leasing option, or if the value increases over time (capital appreciation). In order for it to meet the criteria for the tax deferral, the property must be held strictly for either investment or business use.
Greater or Equal Value Replacement Property Rule
The greater or equal value replacement property rule identifies a limitless amount of properties as long as their combined value does not exceed 200% of the originating, or previously sold property. In addition, this rule also includes the acquired properties to be valued in the neighborhood of 95% or higher of the property that is being exchanged for.
“Boot” is denied
The term boot is where money or the even exchange of items considered to be “other property.” If it is determined that a taxpayer does receive boot, that booted exchange or a portion of will become taxable.
Rules of Thumb for the Boot Offsetting Provisions:
if the seller receives replacement property of the same or higher value than the net sale price of the property previously sold, and in addition, the seller spans all of the proceeds from the acquisition on the property being replaced, then that exchange does meet the criteria to be totally tax deferral. If the seller follows these guidelines, then there is no consideration of this being considered “cash boot” received and either took on new mortgages in addition to the previously dissolved mortgage or the seller gave the “cash boot” to reconcile any received “mortgage boot.”
The Same Taxpayer Rule
It is mandatory under the same taxpayer rule that the seller who previously owned the property that was sold must be the exact same person, via tax identity, who takes over ownership of the property being replaced. The question is why? The answer is because if the taxpayer changed their identity, based on tax law, then there would be no continuous action of the tax. Therefore, the proceeds are subject to become taxable.
45 Day identification Rule
Under the 1031 exchange code, the taxpayer has a 45 day window from the date of the sale of the previously owned property to identify the replacement property. The 45 day window is commonly referred to as an identification period. This process must be done in writing with the authentic signature of the taxpayer.
When identifying the replacement property, remember the following suggestions:
- Any real property as long as it is being considered for business or investment purposes may qualify. The property can be located anywhere in the continental United States. In addition, in 2005 there were certain temporary regulations that were allowed for rental real estate to be purchased in Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and also in the US Virgin Islands.
- The property must be clearly identified with a physical street address or legal property description, and in some cases, specific unit addresses are mandatory.
- In the process of identification, the property may be changed or additional real estate can be added by 12 midnight on the first 45th day of your identification window. Keep in mind that there are two rules that must be remembered and they are the 3-Property Rule and 200% Rule. Sometimes, revoking your original identification may be required while you are in the process of making a new one.
- If there is any property purchased within the window of the 45 day rule then there is no formal identification needed, however, keep in mind to take the identification of other properties in consideration.
- Purchasing replacement properties from relatives should be given careful scrutiny.
180 Day Purchase Rule
When completing a 1031 exchange, the 180 Day-Purchase Rule mandates that the replacement transaction must be completed within 180 days or six months in total. Regardless, the rule always applies. This means that conveyance of title must be completed by this date. If you ever decide to participate in an apartment syndication, please adhere to this rule.
Executing a 1031 Exchange
Example 1: Assuming that a taxpayer has decided to invest into a multifamily unit and he has decided to sell it. To the taxpayer’s surprise, the property generated $300,000 in gains, and after closing, the net proceeds were $300,000. With the taxpayer staring at a capital gain tax liability of 200,000 in taxes (federal capital gain tax, depreciation recapture, state capital gain tax, and net investment income tax) after the property sells. Only $100,000 in net equity is available to be reinvested into another property.
Example 2: If the same investor chose to complete an exchange, the investor would have had to have identified the new replacement product being a multifamily unit within 45 days and invests the entire 300,000 into the purchase of the replacing property with no capital gains due.
For an investor, a 1031 exchange is an excellent opportunity. When you decide to invest in properties, it is natural to migrate to larger units, specifically multifamily properties.
As you continue development and growth in this area, you may even want to consider becoming an apartment syndication investor. This will allow you to pool resources from other sources that will facilitate the overall growth of your portfolio and investment profile. Understanding the 1031 Exchange can generate large revenue and save taxes.