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How Does 1031 Exchange Work – All You Need to Know

How Does 1031 Exchange Work - All You Need to Know

Managing real estate is not as easy as it seems; investors buy and sell all the time and new investors who don’t have adequate knowledge about this get involved in an enigma. 1031 is a property law, and we will discuss this in detail in this article so you know how does 1031 exchange works. 

According to Section 1031 of the United States Internal Revenue Code, an investor can postpone paying capital gains tax on the sale of an investment property by reinvesting the proceeds in another “like-kind property” (hence the term “1031 exchange”). It enables real estate investors to spread risk and postpone tax liabilities.

This article will review the steps involved in a 1031 exchange, the associated terms and conditions and the benefits and drawbacks of such an investment. First, understand the context of Section 1031. Then, we’ll get into the specifics of the 1031 exchange, such as the necessary timeline and documentation.

Expert advice on maximizing 1031 exchanges as part of your real estate investment strategy while avoiding the most common pitfalls can be found in the following sections. New regulations impacting your upcoming real estate transactions will also be covered.

What is a 1031 Exchange?

One of the most effective property investment strategies is a 1031 exchange, a Starker exchange. The term “1031 exchange” comes from Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, which defines 1031 exchanges.

In response, in the 1920s, Congress enacted the 1031 exchange. In the 1970s, Starker v. Commissioner paved the way for delayed communications.

Investors can defer capital gains taxes under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code by selling one asset and investing the proceeds in another. Section 1031 serves no purpose other than to postpone taxation. With this provision in place, investors can better adapt to changes in the economy and its requirements.

The Internal Revenue Service oversees enforcing Section 1031 exchange regulations. Regardless of quality, the Internal Revenue Service considers “like-kind” any property similar in nature or character to another. Both the asset sold, and the asset purchased must be in the United States and used in a trade, business, or investment.

IRS-mandated schedules are legally binding in a 1031 exchange. Investors have 45 days after the sale to find a replacement property and 180 days to close.

The IRS offers guidelines to investors but no personalized advice. Consult a tax professional or an attorney to ensure the transaction is under IRS regulations and complements your investment strategy.

Different Types of 1031 Exchanges

Different Types of 1031 Exchanges

  • Delayed Exchanges: Most 1031 exchanges allow investors to sell their property first. Taxpayers have 45 days to find a replacement property and 180 days to sell. Investors spend a lot of time looking for the right property. Meeting deadlines can be difficult if suitable properties are unavailable or closing issues arise.
  • Build-To-Suit (Improvement) Exchanges: Replacement property improvements made by qualified intermediaries are tax-free. The proceeds could be used to fund new construction or renovations. This swap allows investors to personalize new investments. Construction project enhancements must be completed within 180 days.
  • Reverse Exchanges: The investor purchases a replacement before selling. Investors who have found a replacement but have not sold their current property may benefit from the real estate market. Reverse exchanges are time-consuming and expensive. An Exchange Accommodation Titleholder (EAT) must store a vehicle for the IRS. It takes 45 days to identify and 180 days to sell.

The Importance of Depreciation in a 1031 Exchange

Given the importance of depreciation in real estate investing, a 1031 exchange can be very beneficial. Depreciation allows real estate investors to write off a portion of their initial investment each year over the property’s IRS-determined useful life. A home has an average lifespan of 27.5 years, while commercial structures have an average lifespan of 39 years.

A depreciation schedule depicts the loss of an investment’s value. Annually, homeowners can deduct a portion of their property’s value. In the long run, this yearly wear and tear is costly.

The IRS assesses a depreciation tax taken during ownership when a property is sold. This is referred to as “depreciation recapture.” Depending on the tax bracket, taxes on depreciation recapture can reach 25%.

1031 exchanges can be profitable in this case. Investors can defer capital gains and depreciation recapture taxes by using a 1031 exchange when selling and purchasing like-kind properties. Investors can keep more money in the market while paying less tax.

However, if no other 1031 exchanges are completed, the deferred depreciation will reduce the basis of the new property, potentially resulting in a higher tax liability upon sale. Using Section 1031 exchanges, the investor can postpone paying taxes on sales indefinitely. Because of the complexities of the 1031 exchange rules, you should consult with a tax professional.

The Role of Qualified Intermediaries in a 1031 Exchange

The Role of Qualified Intermediaries in a 1031 Exchange

Qualified intermediaries (QIs), exchange facilitators or accommodators are required for 1031 exchanges. To ensure IRS compliance, they manage funds and facilitate property exchanges.

The IRS forbids the investor from touching the proceeds of the sold property during the exchange. QI is beneficial. The QI secures the investor’s property sale proceeds in an escrow or trust account until the investor purchases a replacement property.

The QI drafts the exchange agreement, buys the taxpayer’s relinquished property, transfers it to the buyer, holds the exchange proceeds, and buys and transfers the taxpayer’s replacement property. The QI helps to maintain the transaction’s IRS-mandated “arm’s length” relationship.

A dependable and experienced QI is essential for ensuring the smooth operation of a 1031 exchange. Choose a bonded QI covered by errors and omissions insurance with prior experience facilitating exchanges.

Investors should also be aware of the “Disqualified Person” rule, which disqualifies QIs who have worked for the taxpayer in the previous two years. Examples include attorneys, real estate agents, and accountants who represent investors. Select a QI who does not follow this rule.

QIs are largely unregulated by federal law, despite their importance in 1031 exchanges. As a result, the choice of QI can make or break a transaction.

When to Consider a 1031 Exchange

Investors may consider a 1031 exchange for deferring capital gains tax on appreciation-driven property sales, enabling reinvestment and relocation of investments. This tool increases growth and flexibility in real estate investments. Some scenarios are: 

  1. Tax Deferral
  2. Portfolio Diversification
  3. Upgrading Assets
  4. Change in Investment Strategy
  5. Relocation of Assets
  6. Estate Planning
  7. Avoid Depreciation Recapture

Choosing a Replacement Property

When selecting a replacement property for a 1031 exchange, investors must remember several rules to ensure that the exchange meets the IRS requirements and successfully defers capital gains taxes.

  • Like-Kind Property: The replacement property must be of “like-kind” to the relinquished property. The IRS interprets “like-kind” quite broadly – any investment property can be exchanged for another type. For example, you could exchange an apartment building for a retail center or raw land for an office building. The key requirement is that both the relinquished and replacement properties must be held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment.
  • Equal or Greater Value: To fully defer all capital gains taxes, the IRS requires that the replacement property is of equal or greater value than the relinquished property. This is not based on the property’s physical characteristics but on its total purchase price and equity. If the replacement property is of lesser value, the investor will be taxed on the difference, often called “boot.”
  • 45-Day Identification Period: The investor must find a replacement 45 days after selling the property. It’s known as the “Identification Period.” The investor must sign and deliver a written document describing the properties to the qualified intermediary or other party. Investors can use one of three rules to identify properties: the three-property rule (identify up to three properties regardless of market value), the 200% rule (identify any number of properties if the cumulative value does not exceed 200% of the sold property), or the 95% rule (identify any number of properties but must acquire 95% of the value).
  • 180-Day Exchange Period: The investor has 180 days from selling the relinquished property to close on the new, replacement property. This is known as the “Exchange Period.” The 45-day identification period is part of these 180 days. If the investor does not meet this timeline, the 1031 exchange is invalid, and the investor will owe taxes on the sale of the relinquished property.

Navigating Potential Risks and Pitfalls

Investors should be aware of the risks and pitfalls that could derail a 1031 exchange, which can assist in the growth and diversification of a real estate portfolio. Common problems and their solutions:

  • Not Meeting the Deadlines: The 45-day identification and 180-day exchange deadlines are set in stone. The transaction fails if they are unmet, and the investor must pay the deferred taxes. Begin looking for replacement properties as soon as possible and stay organized to complete all steps on time.
  • Receiving “Boot”: If the replacement property is worth less, the investor will receive a “boot,” which is taxable. This can occur if the investor fails to reinvest the entire sale proceeds or if the replacement property has a lower debt than the relinquished property. Avoid this trap by learning to calculate and working with a financial advisor.
  • Improperly Structuring the Exchange: The IRS defines the 1031 exchange structure. A qualified intermediary must hold the proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property. Failure to comply will result in the exchange being canceled. A qualified intermediary and legal advisor must structure the exchange properly.
  • Choosing a Disqualified Intermediary: As previously stated, some parties cannot act as intermediaries. These include relatives and anyone who has worked for you in the last two years. Choose your intermediary with care.
  • Not Holding the Replacement Property for the Appropriate Time: The IRS may disqualify your exchange if you sell too soon. Hold the replacement property for a year to demonstrate your investment intent.
  • Overlooking Depreciation Recapture: You’ll have to recapture depreciation when you sell your replacement property unless you do another 1031 exchange. This should be considered in long-term planning.
  • Not Consulting with Professionals: Consult tax advisors, real estate attorneys, and qualified intermediaries who understand the rules to ensure a smooth transaction.

Recent Changes and Developments in 1031 Exchanges

Recent Changes and Developments in 1031 Exchanges

Due to legislative changes, personal property will no longer be permitted in 1031 exchanges after 2023. President Biden’s proposed 1031 exchange limits would affect like-kind real estate exchanges by capping annual gain deferral at $500,000 per taxpayer or $1 million for joint filers.

These changes have the potential to have a significant impact on investors and the real estate market. The proposed restrictions would reduce the property values investors could use in exchanges, potentially slowing transaction volume and significantly impacting the real estate industry. 

According to an Ernst & Young study, businesses using like-kind exchanges will cost the government $7.8 billion in tax revenue. The proposal seeks to raise $1.95 billion.

Real estate investors, escrow agents, attorneys, and others who support 1031 exchanges may also suffer. Furthermore, the limited opportunities for real estate appreciation and tax deferral may stifle the growth of small businesses, which account for 80% of all businesses in the United States.

Maximizing the Value of Your 1031 Exchange

Real estate investors can use 1031 exchanges to defer capital gains taxes, diversify portfolios, upgrade assets, and more. Understanding 1031 exchanges, from the basics and types of exchanges to replacement property selection rules and potential pitfalls, can help investors maximize their investment potential.

The importance of adhering to the IRS’s strict timelines and rules for a 1031 exchange, the role of qualified intermediaries, and the need for proper planning and professional advice are all emphasized in this guide.

You can benefit from REICG’s 1031 exchange expertise. We understand how complicated these transactions can be and are here to assist.

REICG is happy to answer questions about 1031 exchanges for real estate investments. We’ll answer your questions, talk about your goals, and help you get the most out of your real estate investments.

There are numerous advantages to 1031 exchanges, but you must seek legal and tax advice tailored to your situation, like debt investing, choosing a property type, helping with equity investment, and more.

Contact us today to discuss your 1031 exchange requirements. We look forward to assisting you in achieving your real estate investment objectives.

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