Lawrence T. Ullmann, Attorney At Law
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Often underestimated by real estate investors, the 1031 exchange can be a significant tool for maximizing returns while minimizing tax liabilities. Under this section of the Internal Revenue Code, a taxpayer may be able to invest proceeds from a property sale directly into the purchase of a new property while deferring capital gains taxes. 

The 1031 exchange applies to owners of real estate held for investment purposes or for use in a business or trade. These individuals may be able to purchase replacement property of a “like kind” without paying capital gains taxes until the new property goes up for sale at a future date. 

What types of property qualify? 

In order to qualify for a 1031 exchange, both the sold and exchanged property must not be a taxpayer’s personal residence and must be an investment, business or trade-related exchange. This means that only property that is for rent, lease or clearly held for investment or business purposes may qualify under the 1031 exchange. If a taxpayer’s children or relatives occupy the property rent-free, such property may not qualify for an exception. However, vacant land purchased for investment purposes may be eligible. 

How do purchasers determine a property is of like kind? 

Section 1031 also stipulates that exchanged properties must be of like kind. However, the definition of like kind may cover a wide range of real estate transactions that involve financial investment. Replacement properties do not necessarily have to be similar in use or type. For instance, an owner may exchange undeveloped land for a rental property, a retail space for an office lease or a single-family rental for a multifamily complex. 

What are the potential benefits of IRC 1031? 

IRC 1031 offers investment real estate owners the opportunity to avoid immediate tax payments and potentially avoid obligations toward depreciation recapture. In addition to allowing for the diversification or consolidation of business and investment real estate holdings, 1031 may help by improving immediate cash flow and allowing investors to leverage maximum equity when seeking a replacement property.