Frequently Asked Questions – 1031 Exchange Connection
Every Section 1031 Exchange transaction is different. These “Frequently Asked Questions” are intended to answer general inquiries. The application of these principles will depend on the specific facts of each transaction. Always consult a competent Qualified Intermediary, attorney, or tax advisor to determine how an exchange may be structured to accomplish your investment objectives.
Q - What is a tax-deferred exchange?
In a typical transaction, the property owner is taxed on any gain realized from the sale. However, through a Section 1031 Exchange, the tax on the gain is deferred until some future date.
Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that no gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business, or for investment. A tax-deferred exchange is a method by which a property owner trades one or more relinquished properties for one or more replacement properties of “like-kind,” while deferring the payment of federal income taxes and some state taxes on the transaction.
The theory behind Section 1031 is that when a property owner has reinvested the sale proceeds into another property, the economic gain has not been realized in a way that generates funds to pay any tax. In other words, the taxpayer’s investment is still the same, only the form has changed (e.g. vacant land exchanged for apartment building). Therefore, it would be unfair to force the taxpayer to pay tax on a “paper” gain.
The like-kind exchange under Section 1031 is tax-deferred, not tax-free. When the replacement property is ultimately sold (not as part of another exchange), the original deferred gain, plus any additional gain realized since the purchase of the replacement property, is subject to tax.
Q - What are the benefits of exchanging v. selling?
• A Section 1031 exchange is one of the few techniques that allow you to defer taxes due on the sale of qualifying properties.
• By deferring the tax, you have more money available to invest in another property. In effect, you receive an interest-free loan from the federal government, in the amount you would have paid in taxes.
• Any gain from depreciation recapture is postponed.
• You can acquire and dispose of properties to reallocate your investment portfolio without currently paying tax on any gain.*
*Generally, TIC investments are illiquid and there is no secondary market for the sale of such investments.
Q - What is Tenant in Common (also known as Undivided Fractional Interest)?
Participation in a tenant in common (or undivided fractional interest) structure allows investors to purchase an interest in a significant real estate asset, perhaps larger than they could obtain individually. The investor acquires a percentage ownership (title and deed) and receives passive rental income while receiving the tax benefits of the traditional real estate. The investors own and control the properties, rather than a third party. TIC ownership provides investors with the means for ownership diversity, both in location and type, of their real estate portfolio.
Unlike partnership real estate, TIC ownership entitles each owner to the same ownership rights regardless of the equity invested. This element of the investment structure puts no individual owner (or group of owners) in direct control of the property over any other investor(s). You can truly have all of the potential ownership benefits of a large commercial asset with significantly fewer obstacles. As with any type of investment real estate, the income from a fractional interest has the potential to increase annually due to escalations inherent in most tenant leases. Of course, should tenancy decline, income may fall as
Q - What are the requirements for a valid exchange?
• Qualifying Property – Certain types of property are specifically excluded from Section 1031 treatment: property held primarily for sale; inventories; stocks, bonds, or notes; other securities or evidences of indebtedness; interests in a partnership; certificates of trusts or beneficial interest. In general, if property is not specifically excluded, it can qualify for tax-deferred treatment.
• Proper Purpose – Both the relinquished property and replacement property must be held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. Property acquired for immediate resale will not qualify. The taxpayer’s personal residence will not qualify.
• Like Kind – Replacement property acquired in an exchange must be “like-kind” to the property being relinquished. All qualifying real property located in the United States is like-kind. Personal property that is relinquished must be either like-kind or like-class to the personal property which is acquired. Property located outside the United States is not like-kind to property located in the United States .
• Exchange Requirement – The relinquished property must be exchanged for other property, rather than sold for cash and using the proceeds to buy the replacement property. Most deferred exchanges are facilitated by Qualified Intermediaries, who assist the taxpayer in meeting the requirements of Section 1031.
Q - What are the general guidelines to follow in order for a taxpayer to defer all the taxable gain?
• The value of the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the value of the relinquished property.
• The equity in the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the equity in the relinquished property.
• The debt on the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the debt on the relinquished property.
• All of the net proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property must be used to acquire the replacement property.
Q - When can I take money out of the exchange account?
Once the money is deposited into an exchange account, funds can only be withdrawn in accordance with the regulations. The taxpayer cannot receive any money until the exchange is complete. If you want to receive a portion of the proceeds in cash, this must be done before the funds are deposited with the Qualified Intermediary.
Q - Can the replacement property eventually be converted to the taxpayer's primary residence or a vacation home?
Yes, but the holding requirements of Section 1031 must be met prior to changing the primary use of the property. The IRS has no specific regulations on holding periods. However, many experts feel that to be on the safe side, the taxpayer should hold the replacement property for a proper use for a period of at least one year. Consult your tax or legal advisor for advice about your specific circumstances.
Q - What is a Qualified Intermediary (QI)?
A Qualified Intermediary is an independent party who facilitates tax-deferred exchanges pursuant to Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The QI cannot be the taxpayer or a disqualified person.
• Acting under a written agreement with the taxpayer, the QI acquires the relinquished property and transfers it to the buyer.
• The QI holds the sales proceeds, to prevent the taxpayer from having actual or constructive receipt of the funds.
• Finally, the QI acquires the replacement property and transfers it to the taxpayer to complete the exchange within the appropriate time limits.
Q - Can the taxpayer just sell the relinquished property and put the money in a separate bank account, only to be used for the purchase of the replacement property?
The IRS regulations are very clear. The taxpayer may not receive the proceeds or take constructive receipt of the funds in any way, without disqualifying the exchange.
Q - If the taxpayer has already signed a contract to sell the relinquished property, is it too late to start a tax-deferred exchange?
No, as long as the taxpayer has not transferred title or the benefits and burdens of the relinquished property, they can still set up a tax-deferred Exchange. Once the closing occurs, it is too late to take advantage of a Section 1031 tax-deferred exchange (even if the taxpayer has not cashed the proceeds check).
Q - Does the Qualified Intermediary actually take title to the properties?
No, not in most situations. The IRS regulations allow the properties to be deeded directly between the parties, just as in a normal sale transaction. The taxpayer’s interests in the property purchase and sale contracts are assigned to the QI. The QI then instructs the property owner to deed the property directly to the appropriate party (for the relinquished property, its buyer; for the replacement property, the taxpayer).
Q - What are the time restrictions on completing a Section 1031 exchange?
A taxpayer has 45 days after the date that the relinquished property is transferred to properly identify potential replacement properties. The exchange must be completed by the date that is 180 days after the transfer of the relinquished property, or the due date of the taxpayer’s federal tax return for the year in which the relinquished property was transferred, whichever is earlier. Thus, for a calendar year taxpayer, the exchange period may be cut short for any exchange that begins after October 17th. However, the taxpayer can get the full 180 days, by obtaining an extension of the due date for filing the tax return.
Q - Is there any limit to the number of properties that can be identified?
There are three rules that limit the number of properties that can be identified. The taxpayer must meet the requirements of at least one of these rules:
• 3-Property Rule: The taxpayer may identify up to 3 potential replacement properties, without regard to their value; or
• 200% Rule: Any number of properties may be identified, but their total value cannot exceed twice the value of the relinquished property, or
• 95% Rule: The taxpayer may identify as many properties as he wants, but before the end of the exchange period the taxpayer must acquire replacement properties with an aggregate fair market value equal to at least 95% of the aggregate fair market value of all the identified properties.
Q - What are the requirements to properly identify replacement property?
The potential replacement property must be identified in writing, signed by the taxpayer, and delivered to a party to the exchange who is not considered a “disqualified person.” A “disqualified person” is anyone who has a relationship with the taxpayer that is so close that the person is presumed to be under the control of the taxpayer. Examples include blood relatives and any person who is or has been the taxpayer’s attorney, accountant, or real estate agent within the two years prior to the closing of the relinquished property. The identification cannot be made orally.
Q - Can the proceeds from the relinquished property be used to make improvements to the replacement property?
Yes. This is known as a Build-to-Suit or Construction or Improvement Exchange. It is similar in concept to a reverse exchange. The taxpayer is not permitted to build on property he already owns. Therefore, an unrelated party or parking entity must take title to the replacement property, make the improvements, and convey title to the taxpayer before the end of the exchange period.
Q- What is the difference between "realized" gain and "recognized" gain?
Realized gain is the increase in the taxpayer’s economic position as a result of the exchange. In a sale, the tax is paid on the realized gain. Recognized gain is the taxable gain. Recognized gain is the lesser of realized gain or the net boot received.
Q - What is Boot?
The boot is any property received by the taxpayer in the exchange which is not like-kind to the relinquished property. The boot is characterized as either “cash” boot or “mortgage” boot. Realized gain is recognized to the extent of net boot received.
Q - What is Mortgage Boot?
Mortgage boot consists of liabilities assumed or given up by the taxpayer. The taxpayer pays mortgage boot when he assumes or places debt on the replacement property. The taxpayer receives mortgage boot when he is relieved of debt on the replacement property. If the taxpayer does not acquire debt that is equal to or greater than the debt that was paid off, they are considered to be relieved of debt. The debt relief portion is taxable, unless offset when netted against other boot in the transaction.
Q - What is Cash Boot?
Cash boot is any boot received by the taxpayer, other than mortgage boot. Cash boot may be in the form of money or other property.
Q - What are the boot "netting" rules?
• Cash boot paid offsets cash boot received
• Cash boot paid offsets mortgage boot received (debt relief)
• Mortgage boot paid (debt assumed) offsets mortgage boot received
• Mortgage boot paid does not offset cash boot received
Q - Can you sell the rental property and reinvest it into a rental property without paying capital gains tax?
Unless you exchange properties in a qualifying like-kind exchange, you may not defer the gain on the sale of your rental property by purchasing the replacement property.