Using 1031 Exchanges to Shift Gains Between Tax Years

As we start to wind down towards the end of the year, now is a good time to point out that 1031 exchanges are a great vehicle to use in shifting gain between two tax years. For example, if Fred and Sue sell their purple duplex on December 1, 2006, their 45-day identification deadline for their exchange is January 14, 2007. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code requires that they send a list of potential acquisition properties to their intermediary no later than, in this example, this date. Failure to do so will terminate their exchange, causing the gain from the sale of their purple duplex to be taxable.


Reviewing the 1031 Identification Rule


Section 1031 is an IRS code section that lets you defer tax (in some cases a LOT of tax). Of course, they don’t make the deferral easy, but it's not impossible, either.

One of the rules that causes a lot of angst, especially in a fast-moving real estate market like we have now, is the requirement that within 45 calendar days you must identify a list of properties you might want to buy. Whatever you buy to complete your exchange must be on this list. The identification is made on a form provided to you by your Qualified Intermediary (the 1031 specialist that the law requires you use to guide you through this process).


Can I 1031-Exchange My Tiny House?

Wikipedia defines a small house as one ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet.  A tiny house is one that is less than 400 square feet.  Do people really live in spaces that small? Actually, yes – and they’re more common and popular than you might imagine.  I don’t know if they’ve always been out there and I just never noticed (probably), or if it’s a completely new trend that just popped up and made popular by the numerous TV programs that have sprung up recently.


A 1031 Exchange When You Have Negative Equity

As a result of the current real estate slowdown, we’re starting to see clients selling properties with negative equities.  By negative equity, I mean situations where they might owe more than the property is worth they can sell the property for.  Because of this, some interesting questions arise.  How does negative equity affect a persons ability to do a 1031 exchange?  Can you do an exchange when you owe more than the property is selling for?  Why bother if there is no cash, or if you have to bring cash to the table?

Most people (even many real estate professionals) tend to think of cash as the same as “gain.”  Therefore, according to their thinking, if you don’t receive any cash from a sale, you don’t have any gain.  And if you, as the seller, have to bring cash to the closing, you must have a loss, right?


IRS extends 1031 deadlines due to a RARE special circumstance

In a VERY rare move, the IRS granted deadline extensions to some taxpayers for their 1031 exchanges. The IRS granted the extensions due to the hardships caused by Hurricane Charley and Tropical Storm Bonnie.

The IRS doesn't make the rules, but is required to enforce them. It's like a traffic cop monitoring people evacuating an area where a storm is approaching; he can't change the speed limit, but he can choose to extend grace to victims by not writing the ticket. In this special circumstance, the IRS has chosen not to enforce tax deadlines in 26 select Florida counties.


Structuring Single Purpose Entities in 1031 Exchanges

What happens to your 1031 exchange if the lender requires that you take title to your New Property in its own separate, single purpose entity -- like an LLC? Will it toast your exchange? Is there a way to salvage the exchange? What are your options?

This is a common problem, especially with commercial properties. From the lenders standpoint, a "single purpose," or "bankruptcy remote" entity makes sense. What the lender is seeking to prevent is another of your properties that might be having problems from dragging down this one good property and putting their loan in jeopardy.


Have Your Cake and Eat It Too: Converting 1031 Property into Your Personal Residence

Suppose several years ago you did a 1031 exchange and bought a charming rental property in a nice urban area as your replacement property. Now you’re planning retirement and are considering downsizing, making your rental property your residence. Will the IRS let you? If so, are there strings attached?

...Now you’re considering downsizing. Will the IRS let you? If so, are there strings attached...?

Section 1031 allows you, subject to certain rules, to sell an investment property and roll the gain over to a replacement investment property. The new property must be an investment property, so no – you couldn’t sell your rental and buy a different house that would be more comfortable for you to immediately move into.


Pitfalls to Avoid in Group Ownership of 1031 Exchange Property

Two years ago the IRS issued guidelines for taxpayers who wish to buy a small slice of a large property. Their ruling covers groups that are put together by promoters, or "sponsors" and is intended to cover groups comprised of people who don't know each other. These groups are known as "Tenants-In-Common", or "T.I.C.s" and most often called "TICs" (rhymes with "sticks") in the real estate industry.

The ruling sets out the minimum requirements that must be met before the IRS will accept an application for a group's exemption from the partnership rules. Being subject to the IRS's partnership rules would be fatal for a TIC.

Since this ruling was released, the TIC industry has exploded and is easily the fastest growing segment of the real estate industry.


Bankruptcy remote entities and 1031 exchanges

You've just sold your old property in a 1031 exchange for $500,000. You've found the perfect new property, and it's a steal at $2 million. Your exchange intermediary is holding $500,000 for you, and your banker is very receptive to your loan request for the balance of $1.5million. He giving you a break on the loan fee, and the interest rate is better than you hoped to get. There are no structural problems, and a few minor cosmetic changes should allow you to raise the rent a little, giving you a very respectable cash flow. Life is great — until the call…

At first it didn't seem that big a deal; the loan committee approved the loan, but requires that the property be held in what they are calling a bankruptcy remote entity. They want the property held in a separate entity, all by itself. That didn't seem unreasonable, so you called your attorney and hand him set up a corporation to own the property so that you would be protected from liability as well.


Handling Debt in a 1031 Exchange: It’s Easier Than You Think

One of the most confusing and misunderstood parts of Section 1031 is how debt is handled in an exchange. Recently some of our clients have had to deal with the pain of overleveraged property and, not surprisingly, want as little a debt as possible when they make a new purchase. And because loans are harder to get right now, some lenders require much larger down payments. The net result is that questions about the required amount of debt on the new property are common.

Someone, after Congress rewrote Section 1031, made the statement that the debt on the new property had to be at least equal to the debt that was paid off on the sale of the old property. History doesn’t reveal to us who first said it, but it has since been repeated so many times it’s now considered ‘fact’ by many exchange professionals, including many CPAs and attorneys.