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1031 Exchange Basics: How to Minimize Tax on Gains of Real Estate Investments

A 1031 exchange is a tool for investors to keep appreciation in their investments properties by deferring the payment of any taxable capital gains. The 1031 designation is the actual Internal Revenue Code article that contains provides the rules and regulations of the property transfer. The section allows the exchange of investment or business property for another investment or business property without paying the capital gains tax if the property received is of the same “like kind.” This section is extremely complicated and technical. The transaction must be handled correctly from the beginning.


Eligible property is property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment that may be exchanged for other “link-kind” or “like-class” property. IRC §1031(a)(1). A person’s private home is an ineligible product.


Generally, at the time of the sale, of the “relinquished property,” the seller or “exchangor” does not yet know what property he or she wants to acquire, or the closing of the replacement property cannot be accomplished simultaneously with the sale of the relinquished property. In such a case, an “intermediary” is used to defer the exchange and hold the sales proceeds from the sale of relinquished property. It is critical that the proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property are not paid to the seller and remain with the intermediary, otherwise the taxable event will have occurred, and a tax liability will result. As such, “constructive receipt” of the proceeds will invalidate the 1031 exchange.


If it is a deferred tax exchange (1031), then the exchangor must identify the replacement property within 45 days of the settlement of the relinquished property. Notice, “the exchangor must identify the replacement property…” this does not mean that the exhcangor must have purchased or submitted an offer on a replacement property, only that it has been “identified”. The exhcangor may identify up to three possible replacement properties. The identification of the possible replacement properties is given to the intermediary.


The exchangor must close on the purchase of the replacement property within 180 days of the closing of the relinquished property by the due date on the tax return for the exhcangor. The timing rules set forth by the IRS are critical to the success of any investor, a last-minute delay can result in an investment losing the 1031 designation.


Thus, when an investor has a 1031 investment or business property, the IRS provides strict timelines for the sale and exchange of the 1031 designated investment. Otherwise, the investor will have a tax liability and need to pay capital gains tax on any recognized gains on the sale of the 1031 property. Accordingly, when a 1031 property is sold, the exchangor has 45 days to provide a written list to the intermediary of up to three replacement properties. Within 180 days of the sale of the 1031 property, the exchanger must close on one of the replacement properties identified to the intermediary.


If you have any questions regarding 1031 exchanges of real estate, please contact Joseph Marriott at joseph@qtsnola.com or (504)834-7171.


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