1031 Exchange - Selling and Buying Property in Utah
A 1031 Exchange, also known as a Like Kind Exchange, is a way of structuring a sale of certain kinds of property so that the seller’s profit or gain is not currently taxed. Instead, the property that is sold is replaced with another “like kind” property. If the transaction is properly structured, the seller’s profit or gain is deferred to a future date. A 1031 exchange can be a great way to sell an existing investment property, and then buy a new investment property, while avoiding capital gains tax penalties. Below, we have some helpful information to better explain what a 1031 exchange is, how it works and some of the rules and regulations involved.
***This is intended to simply give you a quick summary of 1031 exchanges and not intended to guide you through the process.***
If you think a 1031 exchange may work well for your personal situation, we can help you get in touch with a qualified 1031 exchange accommodator.
Section 1031 is most often used in connection with sales of real property. Some exchanges of personal property can qualify under Section 1031. Exchanges of shares of corporate stock in different companies will not qualify. Also not qualifying are exchanges of partnership interests in different partnerships and exchanges of livestock of different sexes. For real property exchanges under Section 1031, any property that is considered "real property" under the law of the state where the property is located will be considered "like-kind" so long as both the old and the new property are held by the owner for investment, or for active use in a trade or business, or for the production of income.
In order to obtain full benefit, the replacement property must be of equal or greater value, and all of the proceeds from the relinquished property must be used to acquire the replacement property. The taxpayer cannot receive the proceeds of the sale of the old property; doing so will disqualify the exchange for the portion of the sale proceeds that the taxpayer received. For this reason, exchanges (particularly non-simultaneous changes) are typically structured so that the taxpayer's interest in the relinquished property is assigned to a Qualified Intermediary prior to the close of the sale. In this way, the taxpayer does not have access to or control over the funds when the sale of the old property closes.
At the close of the relinquished property sale, the proceeds are sent by the closing agent (typically a title company, escrow company, or closing attorney) to the Qualified Intermediary, who holds the funds until such time as the transaction for the acquisition of the replacement property is ready to close. Then the proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property are deposited by the Qualified Intermediary to purchase the replacement property. After the acquisition of the replacement property closes, the Qualifying Intermediary delivers the property to the taxpayer, all without the taxpayer ever having "constructive receipt" of the funds.
The prevailing idea behind the 1031 Exchange is that since the taxpayer is merely exchanging one property for another property(ies) of “like-kind” there is nothing received by the taxpayer that can be used to pay taxes. In addition, the taxpayer has a continuity of investment by replacing the old property. All gain is still locked up in the exchanged property and so no gain or loss is "recognized" or claimed for income tax purposes.
Examples of a 1031 exchange
An investor buys a strip mall commercial property for $200,000. After six years he could sell the property for $250,000. This would result in a gain of $50,000 on which the investor would have to pay a capital gains tax, but, if he invests the proceeds from the $250,000 sale in another property, then he would not have to pay any taxes on the gain at that time. An owner of a detached house on 3 acres is transferred by his employer to another state. Rather than selling the home, which will no longer be his personal residence, he chooses to rent it out for a period of time. After ten years, he decides that he wants to sell it but, at the same time, he has a grown son who will be going to college in yet another state. He decides that he wants to buy an apartment building in the college town for the son and other students to rent while they are in school. His house has appreciated from $200,000 to $300,000. Therefore, he arranges for an IRC 1031 Exchange, and buys the new property, thus avoiding the capital gain at that time.
There are VERY IMPORTANT time limits to be aware of in a 1031 exchange. Contact us, and we can provide you with someone who is fully up to date with current laws and regulations.
Both the relinquished property and the replacement property must be held either for investment or for productive use in a trade or business. A personal residence cannot be exchanged.
The asset must be of like kind. Real property must be exchanged for real property, although a broad definition of real estate applies and includes land, commercial property and residential property. Personal property must be exchanged for personal property. (There are some complicated rules surrounding this -- for example, livestock of opposite sex are not considered like kind property for the purpose of a 1031 exchange.) The proceeds of the sale must be invested in a like kind asset within 180 days of the sale. However, the property must be identified within 45 days, but up to three properties may be identified. Restrictions are imposed on the number of Replacement Properties which can be identified as potential Replacement Properties. More than one potential replacement property can be identified as long as you satisfy one of these rules.
Although it is not used in the Internal Revenue Code, the term "Boot” is commonly used in discussing the tax implications of a 1031 Exchange. Boot is an old English term meaning “Something given in addition to.” “Boot received” is the money or fair market value of “Other Property” received by the taxpayer in an exchange. Money includes all cash equivalents, debts, liabilities or mortgages of the taxpayer assumed by the other party, or liabilities to which the property exchanged by the taxpayer is subject. “Other Property” is property that is non-like-kind, such as personal property, a promissory note from the buyer, a promise to perform work on the property, a business, etc.
There are many ways for a taxpayer to receive “Boot”, even inadvertently. It is important for a taxpayer to understand what can result in boot if taxable income is to be avoided.
The most common sources of boot include the following:
Cash boot taken from the exchange. This will usually be in the form of "Net cash received", or the difference between cash received from the sale of the relinquished property and cash paid to acquire the replacement property(ies). Net cash received can result when a taxpayer is "Trading down" in the exchange (i.e. the sale price of replacement property(ies) is less than that of the relinquished.)
Debt reduction boot which occurs when a taxpayer’s debt on replacement property is less than the debt which was on the exchange property. As is the case with cash boot, debt reduction boot can occur when a taxpayer is "Trading down" in the exchange.
Sale proceeds being used to pay non-qualified expenses. For example, service costs at closing which are not closing expenses. If proceeds from the sale are used to service non-transaction costs at closing, the result is the same as if the taxpayer had received cash from the exchange, and then used the cash to pay these costs. Taxpayers are encouraged to bring cash to the closing of the sale of their property to pay for the following: Non-transaction costs: i.e. Rent perorations, Utility escrow charges, Tenant damage deposits transferred to the buyer, and any other charges unrelated to the closing.
Excess borrowing to acquire replacement property. Borrowing more money than is necessary to close on replacement property will not result in the taxpayer receiving tax-free money from the closing. The funds from the loan will be the first to be applied toward the purchase. If the addition of exchange funds creates a surplus at the closing, all unused exchange funds will be returned to the Qualified Intermediary, presumably to be used to acquire more replacement property. Loan acquisition costs (origination fees and other fees related to acquiring the loan) with respect to the replacement property should be brought to the closing from the taxpayer’s personal funds. Taxpayers usually take the position that loan acquisition costs are being paid out of the proceeds of the loan. However, the IRS may take the position that these costs are being paid with Exchange Funds. This position is usually the position of the financing institution also. Unfortunately, at the present time there is no guidance from the IRS on this issue which is helpful.
Non-like-kind property which is received from the exchange, in addition to like-kind property (real estate).
Boot limitations: Exchangers are advised to follow the following guidelines:
Always to trade "across" or up, but never trade down in order to avoid receipt of boot, either as cash, debt reduction or both. The boot received can be off-set by qualified costs paid by the Exchanger.
Always to bring cash to the closing of the replacement property to cover loan fees or other charges which are not qualified costs. (See above)
Not to receive property which is not like-kind.
Not to over-finance the replacement property, since financing should be limited to the amount of money necessary to close on the replacement property in addition to exchange funds which will be brought to the replacement property closing.
The Three-Property Rule - Any three properties regardless of their market values.
The 95% Rule - Any number of replacement properties if the fair market value of the properties actually received by the end of the exchange period is at least 95% of the aggregate FMV of all the potential replacement properties identified.
The 200% Rule - Any number of properties as long as the aggregate fair market value of the replacement properties does not exceed 200% of the aggregate FMV of all of the exchanged properties as of the initial transfer date.
Time Limits and difficulties involved in meeting them
Frequently, the most difficult component of a 1031 exchange is identifying a replacement property within the first 45 days following the sale of the relinquished property. The IRS is strict in not allowing extensions.
A 1031 exchange is similar to a traditional IRA or 401K retirement plan. When someone sells assets in tax-deferred retirement plans, the capital gains that would otherwise be taxable are deferred until the holder begins to cash out of the retirement plan. The same principle holds true for tax-deferred exchanges or real estate investments. As long as the money continues to be re-invested in other real estate, the capital gains taxes can be deferred. Unlike the aforementioned retirement accounts, rental income on real estate investments will continue to be taxed as net income is realized.
An alternative to a 1031 exchange for someone who wants to defer capital gains tax, but who does not want to continue to hold property is a structured sale. This method offers both buyer and seller many benefits and is regarded as ideal for those looking to retire from or exit from the real estate or business market.
How a 1031 exchange is accomplished
The following sequence represents the order of steps in a typical 1031 exchange:
Step 1. Retain the services of tax counsel/CPA. Become advised by same.
Step 2. Sell the property, including the Cooperation Clause in the sales agreement. "Buyer is aware that the seller's intention is to complete a 1031 Exchange through this transaction and hereby agrees to cooperate with seller to accomplish same, at no additional cost or liability to buyer." Make sure your escrow officer/closing agent contacts the Qualified Intermediary to order the exchange documents.
Step 3. Enter into an 1031 exchange agreement with your Qualified Intermediary, in which the Qualified Intermediary is named as principal in the sale of your relinquished property and the subsequent purchase of your replacement property. The 1031 Exchange Agreement must meet with IRS Requirements, especially pertaining to the proceeds. Along with said agreement, an amendment to escrow is signed which so names the Qualified Intermediary as seller. Normally the deed is still prepared for recording from the taxpayer to the true buyer. This is called direct deeding. It is not necessary to have the replacement property identified at this time.
Step 4. The relinquished escrow closes, and the closing statement reflects that the Qualified Intermediary was the seller, and the proceeds go to your Qualified Intermediary. The funds should be placed in a separate, completely segregated money market account to insure liquidity and safety. The closing date of the relinquished property escrow is Day 0 of the exchange, and that’s when the exchange clock begins to tick. Written identification of the address of the replacement property must be sent within 45 days and the identified replacement property must be acquired by the taxpayer within 180 days.
Step 5. The taxpayer sends written identification of the address or legal description of the replacement property to the Qualified Intermediary, on or before Day 45 of the exchange. It must be signed by everyone who signed the exchange agreement, and it may be faxed, hand delivered, or mailed either to the Qualified Intermediary, the seller of the replacement property or his agent, or to a totally unrelated attorney. Send it via certified mail, return receipt requested. You will then have proof of receipt from a government agency.
Step 6. Taxpayer enters into an agreement to purchase replacement property, again including the Cooperation Clause. "Seller is aware that the buyer's intention is to complete a 1031 Exchange through this transaction and hereby agrees to cooperate with buyer to accomplish same, at no additional cost or liability to seller." An amendment is signed naming the Qualified Intermediary as buyer, but again the deeding is from the true seller to the taxpayer.
Step 7. When conditions are satisfied and escrow is prepared to close and certainly prior to the 180th day, per the 1031 Exchange Agreement, the Qualified Intermediary forwards the exchange funds and growth proceeds to escrow, and the closing statement reflects the Qualified Intermediary as the buyer. A final accounting is sent by the Qualified Intermediary to the taxpayer, showing the funds coming in from one escrow, and going out to the other, all without constructive receipt by the taxpayer.
Step 8. Taxpayer files form 8824 with the IRS when taxes are filed, and whatever similar document your particular state requires.