Posted over 3 years ago

What is a 1031 Exchange and How does it Work?

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Many people who sell an investment property believe that federal capital gains from that sale must always be handed over to the IRS. This is not always the case. IRS Code Section 1031 offers investors the opportunity to reinvest federal capital gains from a sale if you swap that property for another…and it does not always have to be for ‘like property’ either! Instead, as an investor, you could have that money work for you rather than end up in the hands of the IRS. Further, you do not have to sell your property for the exact same type of property either!

The 1031 Code indicates that no gains or losses will be recognized on the exchange of any type of business use or investment property for any other business use or investment property.

So what does this mean? How can this help you?

If you own a business or an investment property you should consider a 1031 exchange. You would be able to defer 100% of both federal and state capital gains tax. 1031 Exchanges in essence become interest free loans; where the principal may increase through future exchanges allowing the exchanger to never pay back, if the transactions are planned well. Along with the guidance of an experienced realtor, this can be one of the most profitable ventures you will ever enter into.

Are you apprehensive about the 1031 Exchanges? Here are some interesting facts, which will make the decision easier.

  1. At one time, exchanges were only done to switch like investment properties to the same person swapping for your own, but this is not the case anymore. In fact, you can sell your own property to someone who does not have a relationship to the person from whom they are purchasing the replacement property.
  2. It is important to know that like-properties once met the same, condo for condo, empty lot for empty lot but that is also no longer the case. If you have invested your money in an empty lot but wish to exchange for an apartment building, this too is possible and again, no taxes would be paid for the sale of the vacant land when following the guidelines of the 1031 exchange. In fact, the owner of the empty lot can even sell that one lot and then purchase several others or just buy one and then sell others. Note, 1031 Exchanges only apply to investment properties and not residences.
  3. Many believe only investors of large commercial properties can utilize a 1031. One of the greatest features about a 1031 Exchange is that it applies to all investment properties, large and very small. 1031 Exchange works the same way for a corporation selling a large shopping mall as it would for an individual selling a single-family property used for rental or held for investment in a resort area.
  4. Many believe 1031 Exchanges are very complicated and not worth investigating. Consider working with a qualified Realtor® who can offer you professional advice and direction. 1031 Exchanges is a relatively smooth process and definitely worth considering but sound advice from an experienced Realtor® is the key to profitability.
  5. The Exchanger can acquire a replacement property with greater income potential. For example, raw land can be sold to acquire income-producing property or a larger or more ideally located property. A duplex rental property can be exchanged for a 4-family investment property offering greater income.

Should you wish to increase your buying flow due to greater cash flow, exchange investment or rental property for that with a greater income, acquire investment property that is easier to finance, or should you have the need to relocate or the desire to increase your current business or investment space for a larger area, the 1031 Exchange can accomplish any or all of these goals.

How Does it Work?

A section 1031 tax deferral allows an investor to sell a property, then reinvest the proceeds in a new property and defer all capital gain taxes. Specific conditions for the exchange state that it must be of “like-kind” and must take place within 45 days of the close of the sale. To understand more about how this exchange works, consider the following example:

  • If an investor has a $200,000 capital gain and incurs a tax liability of $70,000 in combined taxes when the property is sold, only $130,000 remains to reinvest in another property.
  • If the investor had, for example, a down payment of 25% and a loan-to-value ratio of 75%, the seller would only be able to purchase a $520,000 property.
  • If the same investor chose a 1031 exchange, however, and had the same down payment and loan-to-value ratio as above, the entire $200,000 of equity could be reinvested in an $800,000 purchase of real estate.

The exchange offers a powerful protection for investors from capital gain taxes. However, knowledge of what qualifies for a 1031 exchange, and how it works is crucial to receive the full benefits that it can offer. For example, not all real estate qualifies for the exchange. Business property and investment property are the only types that will qualify for the tax deferral.

Both the property sold and received must be of “like-kind”, which is often mistaken to mean the exact types of properties. The like kind provision for real property is quite broad, and includes land, rental, and business property. A 1031 exchange may actually be mixed as to type and still be like-kind. For example, you may exchange land for a duplex, or a commercial building for a retail store. The like-kind provision for personal property is more restrictive.

One difficult aspect of making a 1031 exchange is finding a new investment property within the 45 day limit. The IRS is very strict about complying with the restriction and rarely allows extensions. Once a replacement property has been found, the next challenge comes in obtaining the extra capital needed to complete the exchange.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to overcome that challenge. Obtaining a bridge loan is an easy and effective way for a commercial borrower to finance a property for a short period of time. Bridge loans are usually offered for terms of 12-36 months, just the amount of time that a property owner would need for a 1031 exchange.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a legal or accounting professional. The above information is not presented as legal advice but taken from secondary research and public information. You must consult with you legal and/or accounting professional to get the best advice and most accurate information.