Top Ten 1031 Exchange Misconceptions

1.  Like-kind means I must exchange the same type of property, such as apartment building for apartment building.

 

All real property is like-kind to other real property, but personal property

like-kind requirements do have some restrictions. Real property and personal property are not like-kind to one another.  To read more about like-kind real estate, go here.

 

2.  My attorney can handle this for me.

 

Not if your attorney has provided you any non-exchange related legal services within the two-year period prior to the exchange. To read more about qualified and disqualified parties, go here.

 

3.  I must literally “swap” my property with another investor.

 

No. A 1031 exchange allows you to sell your relinquished property and purchase replacement property from a third party. Watch a short video on the basic process of a 1031 exchange.

 

4.  1031 exchanges are too complicated.

 

They don’t have to be. An experienced Qualified Intermediary will work with you and your tax and/or legal advisors to make sure the process is as seamless as possible.  Go here to read frequently asked questions and answers about doing a 1031 exchange.

 

5.  The sale and purchase must take place simultaneously.

 

No. The taxpayer has 45 days to identify the new replacement property and 180 days to close.

If you would like more information on the identification time period, go here.

 

6.  I just need to file a form with the IRS with my tax return and “roll over” the proceeds into a new investment.

 

No.  A valid exchange requires much more than just reporting the transaction on Form 8824.  One of the biggest traps when not structured properly is the taxpayer having actual or constructive rights to the exchange proceeds and triggering a taxable event.  For more information on tax filing requirements, go here.

 

7.  1031 exchanges are only for real estate.

 

No. Almost any property, whether real or personal, which is held for productive use in a trade or business, or for investment, may qualify for tax-deferred treatment under Section 1031. For more information on personal property exchanges, go here.

 

8.  All of the funds from the sale of the relinquished property must be reinvested.

 

No. A taxpayer can choose to withhold funds or receive other property in an exchange, but it is considered boot and will be subject to federal and state taxes.  To understand more about boot, go here.

 

9.  1031 exchanges are just for big investors.

 

No. Anyone owning investment property with a market value greater than its adjusted basis should consider a 1031 exchange. To find out how to use 1031 exchanges as a retirement planning tool, go here.

 

10.  I must hold property longer than a year before exchanging it.

 

The 1031 regulations do not list a time requirement on how long you must hold property, but it does say that property must be “held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment”.

To learn more about holding period requirements, go here.

from First American Exchange Company “The Exchange Update”

 

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Can I Exchange My Vacation Home?

Rising gas prices have caused many vacation property owners to reevaluate their “get away” options. They still want a cottage on a lake, but the lake needs to be closer to home. With proper planning, a tax-deferred exchange may help them realize that goal.

How much personal use is allowed?

To qualify for tax-deferred treatment under §1031, both the relinquished and replacement properties must be held for investment purposes or for use in the taxpayer’s trade or business. Property held for personal use does not qualify.

So what about vacation homes? Personal use is usually why they were acquired, but how much personal use is too much? Hopefully the properties will appreciate in value. Is that sufficient to demonstrate the necessary investment intent? Or does the property have to be rented out to be considered an investment?

Appreciation ≠ Investment

The Taxpayers in one case faced this exact dilemma.1 They had lake property that was used 2 or 3 weekends in the summer, with maintenance visits in the off season. They exchanged for property closer to home and used it even more often. The Court disallowed the exchange, finding that the property was held primarily for personal use, not for investment.

The mere hope or expectation of appreciation was not sufficient to establish investment intent. The Taxpayers never attempted to rent either property, never claimed deductions for maintenance or depreciation and deducted the interest as home mortgage interest. Also, their failure to properly maintain the relinquished property was inconsistent with an investment intent.

The IRS Safe Harbor: Revenue Procedure 2008-16

In 2007 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued a report recommending additional oversight of like-kind exchanges, specifically stating that: “…the IRS regulations for like-kind exchanges of second and vacation homes are complex and may be unclear to taxpayers…and little exists with respect to a published position by the IRS on like-kind exchanges involving such properties.”2

In response the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2008-16, which provides a safe harbor. If the procedures are followed, the IRS will not challenge whether a property qualifies as being held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment. An exchange may fall outside the safe harbor and still qualify, but expect more scrutiny from the IRS.

Qualifying Properties

Both the Relinquished and Replacement Properties must have been owned by the Taxpayer for at least 24 months immediately before and after the exchange. In each of the two 12-month periods immediately before and after the exchange the Properties must be rented at a fair market value for 14 days or more. The Taxpayer’s personal use cannot exceed the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days during each 12-month period that the property was rented at a fair market value.

Personal Use

“Personal Use” is not limited just to use by the Taxpayer. It also includes use by:

• the Taxpayer’s family members;
• any other person with an interest in the unit, or their families;
• anyone using the unit under an arrangement which enables the Taxpayer to use some other dwelling unit (even if no rent is charged); or
• anyone, if the property is rented for less than fair market value rent.

Meeting the Safe Harbor

First, you must meet the ownership requirements mentioned above. You should also limit personal use of the property to the greater of 14 days per year or 10% of the rental period. If you use the property any additional days for repairs and maintenance, be ready to show proof of the actual work done

The property should be rented to an unrelated party for at least 14 days per year. However, there is no need to rent the property for more than 14 days. You may also rent the property to a related party if they use it as their principal residence and pay fair market value rent.

It is also important to treat the property as an investment. Make sure that the property is properly maintained. Deduct expenses for maintenance, utilities, insurance and depreciation. If you have a mortgage on the property make sure that it is structured as an investment loan, not as a loan for a primary residence.

Vacation Homes Outside the United States

What if you own a vacation property located outside the United States? In some cases you can still benefit from a 1031 exchange. Real estate located outside the United States is not like-kind to real estate in the 50 states, even if it is located in an affiliated commonwealth or territory, such as Puerto Rico.3 However, you can exchange “foreign for foreign”, (e.g. Belize for Bermuda) as long as the other requirements are met.

A tax-deferred exchange is one of the few wealth building tools available to virtually any investor. Taxpayers should consider the benefits of a tax-deferred exchange whenever they plan to sell property that is not their principal residence.

from First American Exchange Company –

The Exchange Update

A Newsletter For 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges

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1031 Treatment for Conservation Easements

The decline in real estate development has provided an unexpected opportunity for land preservation. Large tracts of land that were slated for new construction are now being sold in whole or in part to local and regional municipalities or open space organizations. Certainly the sale of the entire fee interest in land held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment would likely qualify for a §1031 exchange. Interestingly, the sale of less than a fee interest may also qualify for tax-deferral under §1031 if certain criteria are met.

The IRS has issued several private letter rulings finding that certain types of conservation and agricultural easements are like-kind to real estate. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement that allows a landowner to limit the type or amount of development on their property while still retaining ownership of the land1. Generally, the easement needs to be perpetual in nature and considered an interest in real estate for state law purposes.

Typically the land owner receives cash in exchange for granting the easement. Sometimes more than one government agency is involved in the transaction, such as a matching funds agreement between a county and state. In those cases there may be issues coordinating the timely payment of funds from each agency. It is a good idea to confirm how and when the sales price will be paid before entering the transaction.

There have been instances where the land owner received compensation other than cash in exchange for the easement. In a private letter ruling2 the IRS approved an exchange where the taxpayer received stewardship credits as compensation.3

First, using a Qualified Intermediary, the taxpayer conveyed the relinquished property by granting the county a perpetual restrictive stewardship easement over ranch land in return for stewardship credits equal to the value of the property rights that the taxpayer permanently relinquished. During the exchange period, the taxpayer converted the credits to cash by selling them to a third party buyer. The cash was then used to purchase the replacement property. The taxpayer was never in receipt of the credits or the relinquished property proceeds during the exchange period. The stewardship easement was held to be like kind to a fee interest in real estate.

The IRS based its decision on the fact that the stewardship easement was considered an interest in real property under state law and that the easement was perpetual. The ruling also discussed how the sale of the easement significantly and permanently restricted the future use of the taxpayer’s property such that the fair market value of the property, if sold, would be impaired.

In summary, remember that a §1031 exchange opens many investment opportunities for property owners. Do not assume that you can only exchange fee interests for other fee interests. There are many other possibilities, including conservation easements, leasehold interests and water rights. Please feel free to contact your local First American Exchange Company office to discuss your options: (800) 556-2520; 1031@firstam.com.

from First American Exchange Company Newsletter

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Converting Investment Property to Your Primary Residence

Exclusion of Gain from Sale of Residence

Many people are aware that they can sell their primary residence and not pay taxes on a significant amount of gain. Under Section 121 of the Internal Revenue Code, you will not owe capital gains taxes on up to $250,000 of gain, or $500,000 of gain if you are married and filing jointly, when you sell a home that you used as your primary residence for at least two of the previous five years. Taxpayers can take advantage of this exclusion once every two years.

Property Converted from Investment to Primary Residence

Taxpayers used to be able to trade into a rental, rent the home for a while, move into it and then exclude all or some of the gain under Section 121. Provided they lived in the home as their primary residence for at least two years, they could sell it and exclude the gain under Section 121 up to the maximum level of $250,000/$500,000. In recent years Congress enacted two amendments to Section 121 in order to limit the benefits of Section 121 when the property has been used as a rental.

First, if you acquire property in a 1031 exchange and then convert it to your primary residence, you must own it at least five years before being eligible for the Section 121 exclusion.

Second, the amount of gain that you can exclude will be reduced to the extent that the house was used for something other than a primary residence during the period of ownership. The exclusion is reduced pro rata by comparing the number of years the property is used for non-primary residence purposes to the total number of years the property is owned by the taxpayer.

For example, a married couple uses a tax deferred exchange under Section 1031 to acquire a house as investment property. The couple rents the house for three years, and then moves into it and uses it as their primary residence for the next three years. The couple sells the property at the end of year 6, netting a total gain of $800,000. Instead of being able to exclude $500,000, the couple will not be able to exclude some of the gain based on how many years they rented the house. Since they rented it for three years out of six, 50% of the gain, or $400,000, will not be able to be excluded. Because of this new limitation, the couple will be able to exclude $400,000 of the gain rather than $500,000.

Exceptions

There are a couple of exceptions to this restriction. If the house was used as a rental prior to January 1, 2009, the exclusion is not affected. Using the example provided above, if the three year rental period occurred prior to January 1, 2009, the exclusion would not be reduced and the couple would be able to exclude the full $500,000.

Another important exception is that property that is first used as a primary residence and later converted to investment property is not affected by these restrictions on excluding gain. For example, if you own and live in a house for 18 years and then you move out and rent the house for two years before selling it, you can receive the full amount of the exclusion. Because your investment use occurred after the last day of use as a primary residence, all of the gain accumulated over your 20 year ownership of the property can be excluded, up to $250,000, or $500,000 for married couples.

Combining Exclusion with 1031 Exchange

Fortunately, the rules are favorable to taxpayers who have more than $250,000/$500,000 of gain and are looking to combine Section 1031 with Section 121 to both exclude and defer tax. When the property starts out as a primary residence and then is converted into an investment property, you can exclude gain under Section 121, and then defer tax on the remaining gain, provided you comply with the requirements of both Section 1031 and Section 121.

The Internal Revenue Code still provides investors with favorable options for exclusion of gain and tax deferral. The rules can be complicated, but with the right planning taxpayers can still make the most of their real estate investments. For additional information about the 1031 exchange process or to open an exchange contact us at First American Exchange.

References: Internal Revenue Code §121; Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008 (H.R. 3221).

from

The Exchange Update

A Newsletter For 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges by First American Exchange Company

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Short-sale debt collection draws ire – Why are banks getting tax break while also pursuing discharged debt?

Homebuyers may be attracted to the big bargains that foreclosures and preforeclosures can offer. But distressed properties can involve tricky, lengthy transactions, and there’s a lot to think about before jumping in.

In fact, some home shoppers have shunned short sales altogether, preferring a more reliable process to a reduction in price. Getting all parties to agree to a short-sale price can be problematic, and lenders have been known to change their minds when more bidders surface.

Given the difficulty and uncertainty of negotiating a short-sale transaction, you would think lenders would bend over backward to make things easier for the consumer once the deal is finally done.

But it appears some lenders are seeking an additional pound of flesh long after the frustrated, exhausted and often financially drained seller has moved on.

Short sales occur when owners, often in distress, sell their homes for less than the amount they owe their lenders. The lender may then write off the remainder of the debt and receive tax benefits.

Some lenders, however, will also assign or sell the remaining debt obligation to third-party debt collectors, often for pennies on the dollar. The third-party debt collector can then use the legal system to continue to pursue the former homeowner for the balance owed.

This has become such an issue that legislators in Olympia, Wash., have taken action. Senate Bill 6337, proposed by David Frockt, D-Seattle, would protect short-sale sellers from being pursued by lenders or their assignees for the difference between the sale price and remaining loan balance.

“The banks will basically have to make a choice,” Frockt said, “to either write off the amount and take the tax benefit, or pursue the owner — but they cannot do both.”

When a lender agrees to a short sale, it can either retain the ability to collect from the short-sale seller the amount of mortgage debt owed by the seller that is not satisfied by the purchase price, or it can discharge all or a portion of the unsatisfied debt amount.

If a lender discharges debt, it reports this discharge of debt to the Internal Revenue Service on a 1099-C Cancellation of Debt Form. The issuance of the 1099-C allows the lender to take a tax deduction for the loss represented by the amount of debt discharged, and this same amount of debt discharged becomes taxable income to the short-sale seller.

After the taxpayers bailed out the mortgage industry, many borrowers are still unable to get a loan modification to stay in their homes. Now the industry has a sketchy-to-lousy national reputation, and more stringent qualifying standards are not helping their case.

In light of all this, how can some lenders knowingly seek both a tax deduction for the mortgage debt not paid while also seeking to collect that same mortgage debt?

“Yes, we have heard of this happening,” said Deborah Bortner, director of consumer services for the Washington state Department of Financial Institutions.

“I hear it mostly from attorneys or others who assist those in obtaining a short sale. I understand that the documentation provided by the institutions doesn’t always make it clear whether they will pursue a short sale or not. The consumer only finds out later when contacted by someone trying to collect the deficiency.”

In some instances, mortgage debt collection rights have been referred to third-party debt collection companies, even though short-sale sellers have paid income tax on the amount of this discharged debt.

“This is another step to help the short-sale process that is keeping many homeowners from the tragedy of foreclosure,” said Faye Nelson, president of the Washington Association of Realtors. “Nearly 40 percent of the inventory in the Puget Sound region right now is short sales. State legislators recognize that protecting this process is critical to homeownership and the housing market.”

By Tom Kelly, Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

Inman News®Tom Kelly’s new e-book, “Bargains Beyond the Border: Get Past the Blood and Drugs: Mexico’s Lower Cost of Living Can Avert a Tearful Retirement,” is available online at Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon.com, Sony’s Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel eBook Store, and Google Editions.

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Top 5 tax breaks for homeowners

Q: We bought a house this year! We put $33,000 down and the bank financed $28,000. Can I write this off on my 2011 taxes? How much of it?

A: First things first: Congratulations! You’ve become a homeowner, and seem to have done so using an enviable financial arrangement. But now that you own a home, you might need to shift the way you think and look at some things, including your taxes and other financial matters.

Owning a home is one of those landmarks that signify financial adulthood. And one of the things that responsible financial adults do is get professional help when the situation requires it. Taxes are one of those areas that often do warrant calling the pros in.

I’m not just shilling for the tax prep industry here, either: The ultimate aim of using a tax professional is to make sure you get every deduction, credit and other tax advantage for which you qualify, without jacking up your chances at triggering the universally dreaded Internal Revenue Service audit by claiming dubious deductions.

Your mortgage debt is fairly small, as was your home’s purchase price, though I don’t know whether they are large or small in the context of your overall financial picture (i.e., income, assets, investments, etc.).

The fact that you saved or somehow came up with such a sizable chunk of change to put down makes me hesitate to assume that your finances are as simple as your mortgage balance might otherwise lead me to believe.

So, it might be the case that you can easily handle your own taxes — in fact, it’s even possible that your real estate-related deductions won’t even outweigh the standard deductions, so that filing a simple form without even itemizing your deductions is actually the financially advantageous move.

Whether that’s the case cannot be determined in a vacuum — you may have other financial and tax issues going on. But with software and tax preparation services as inexpensive as they are, starting at under $20 for simple returns, I think it behooves you to get some professional advice and ensure you get the deductions you need.

Hiring a tax preparer might be a worthwhile investment to make, even if just this year, so he or she can brief you on what records you should keep and strategies you should do moving forward, like home repair and improvement receipts, or documentation of your use of an area of the home as a home office.

Now, let’s talk more substantively about the deductions that are available to you, in the event you do decide to itemize your taxes (IRS Publication 530 offers a more nuanced view into Tax Information for Homeowners):

1. Mortgage interest deduction. Assuming this home is your personal residence, 100 percent of the mortgage interest you owe and pay before Dec. 31, 2011, is deductible on your 2011 taxes. In January, your mortgage lender will send you a form documenting the precise amount of interest you paid, although most lenders also now make this form immediately available to borrowers online.

Chances are good that you paid some amount of advance interest on your home loan at closing — expect to see that on your statement from your lender, but you should also be able to find it on the HUD-1 settlement statement you received from your escrow agent at closing.

2. Property tax deductions. Again, assuming that this is the home you live in most of the time, you should be able to deduct 100 percent of the property taxes you’ve paid to your state and/or local taxing agency this year.

3. Closing-cost deductions. Discount points and origination fees paid to your mortgage lender and/or broker at closing are frequently deductible, but there are rules around this, which tax software and/or professionals can help you make sure you meet. Note that, according to Internal Revenue Service Publication 530, “You cannot deduct transfer taxes and similar taxes and charges on the sale of a personal home.”

There are various home improvements (especially those that increase your home’s energy efficiency), state and local tax credits for buying a foreclosure, and other tax advantages that might be available to you.

My advice is to work with an experienced, local tax preparer or, at the very least, use reputable tax preparation software to ensure that you get the maximum tax advantages available to you as a result of your new role as a homeowner.

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson, Thursday, January 5, 2012.

Inman News®

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of “The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook” and “Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions.” Tara is also the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. Ask her a real estate question online or visit her website, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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Structuring an Option with a 1031 Exchange

In a slower economy financing is often difficult to find, leaving willing buyers and willing sellers without the means to complete their transactions.  Through the use of options, either alone or in connection with a lease arrangement, some measure of certainty can be achieved. 

An option is a unilateral agreement between the property owner and a potential buyer.  In a typical situation the buyer makes a one-time cash payment to the owner.  In return, the buyer receives the exclusive right to purchase the property at a set price during the option period.

A lease with an option to buy is a similar tool that many investors turn to as a way to move their deals forward.  This structure has benefits for both parties.  In addition to the payment for the option right, the property owner receives monthly rental income and the knowledge that a committed buyer is waiting in the wings.  The tenant benefits by having the present use of the desired property, while locking up the future acquisition of the property at a pre-determined price.

So what does this mean in the context of a §1031exchange?  Can a lease be used to extend the exchange period?  How are option payments treated?  Can an option be exchanged?

Lease with Option to Buy

 

A lease with an option to buy is a legitimate way for the property owner to attempt to lock in a buyer, and for the buyer to lock in a property. 

If the property owner intends to do an exchange, the exchange typically will not start until the property is transferred to the buyer by delivery of the deed at a closing.  Nevertheless, there are some situations where the parties transfer all of the benefits and burdens to the tenant/buyer before the closing, and in these cases the IRS may apply the benefits and burdens test and decide that the transfer (for tax purposes) had occurred earlier.  An example of this is a lease with option payments that are so large relative to the fair market value of the property that it is a virtual certainty that the buyer will exercise the option. 

Option Payments

 

What about the option payments themselves?  Generally, option payments are not taxable until the option is exercised or forfeited.  If the owner is doing a §1031exchange and receiving option payments that are applicable to the purchase price, most tax advisors recommend that the owners have the qualified intermediary hold the option payments.  Alternatively, the owner should consider sending the option payments to the closing or escrow agent prior to the closing so that the funds can be added to the exchange proceeds.  If the owner chooses to retain the payments they will be taxable boot.

Trading Options

 

In some situations the option holder may decide not to exercise the option.  The option may still have value, however, especially if the current market value of the property has appreciated above the fixed option price.  Can the option be transferred by the option holder as part of a tax-deferred exchange?  There is not much authority dealing with the tax treatment of options or other contract rights in a §1031exchange, but interestingly, in the case that established the validity of deferred exchanges, the taxpayer received only a contract right as his replacement property.  

Other issues to consider are whether options are like kind only to other options or whether they can be considered like kind to a fee interest in real estate, and whether granting an option can make the relinquished property be treated as property held for sale rather than held for investment purposes. 

In summary, when financing is difficult to obtain, an option, especially when combined with a lease, can help the transaction move forward.  Always consult your tax professional prior to structuring an option transaction.  First American Exchange is always available to help you set up your next 1031 exchange.

The Exchange Update

A Newsletter For 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchanges

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Energy Efficiency Tax Credits: What You Need to Know

Are you planning to make energy-efficient upgrades to your home this year? Thanks to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, federal tax credits have been extended into 2011 (and for some products, 2016). Here’s an overview of the details. To see a breakdown of eligible products and tax credit amounts, visit the ENERGY STAR 2011 Federal Tax Credits for Consumer Energy Efficiency webpage.

You may qualify for more than a federal tax credit. Appliance rebate programs are available in many states. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s map and list to see if your state has an approved program. Additional state, local, federal and utility incentives can be found at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Know the filing guidelines. Products “placed in service” – installed and ready to use – in 2011 should be claimed on your 2011 taxes. You’ll need to file the 2011 version of IRS Form 5695, which will be available in early 2012. For more information about applying for the tax credit, click here.

Many, but not all, ENERGY STAR-qualified products are eligible. Ceiling fans, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators are some of the products not covered by the tax credit. To see more items that aren’t eligible, click here.

The credit levels have changed. The most common items – energy-efficient windows and doors, for example – are eligible for a 10 percent tax credit, which is lower than last year. Geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems, fuel cells and wind generators are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit.

The actual amount of the credit depends on the product. Homeowners can get up to $500 back for insulation, roofs and doors. Windows are capped at $200; furnace and boilers at $150; and air conditioners, air source heat pumps, water heaters and biomass stoves at $300. There is no limit for geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems, fuel cells and wind generators.

Many products have a lifetime cap of $500. If you go over the $500 cap in tax credits from 2006 to 2010, you’re not eligible for additional credits. Exempt from this cap are geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems, fuel cells and wind generators – there is no upper limit for these items through 2016.

American Home Shield is providing the information for general guidance only. Due to the general nature of the property maintenance and improvement advice in this material, neither American Home Shield Corporation, nor its licensed subsidiaries assumes any responsibility for any loss or damage which may be suffered by the use of this information.
 
from AHS “Inside & Out” Newsletter

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Refinancing Before or After a 1031 Exchange

A common question that we are asked when working with investors contemplating a 1031 tax deferred exchange is:  Can I refinance the property and pull out cash before or after I complete my exchange?  Unfortunately there is no clear cut answer to this question, but hopefully the information in this article will provide you with some clarity. 

 In order to completely defer all tax in a 1031 exchange, you need to acquire property equal to or greater in value than the property you have sold, and you need to reinvest all of the net cash you receive from the sale of the relinquished property.  Because of the rule which requires you to reinvest all of the equity, when you refinance right before or after a 1031 exchange, the IRS may question whether you refinanced to avoid complying with the 1031 rules or whether you did it for a legitimate business purpose. 

Under the step transaction doctrine, the IRS may argue that what you did in several steps (close your exchange as step one and refinance your property as step two) was really all a part of one transaction.  Under that theory, the IRS could take the position that you may be considered to have taken cash boot in your exchange.  If that happens, an exchange that you thought was completely tax-deferred would be at least partially taxable.  It is important to consult with your tax advisor when deciding whether and how to refinance properties that are involved in an exchange. 

Here are a few suggestions that you may want to consider:

  • The loan should have a clear business purpose which should be well documented in your files.  For example, the maturity date of the loan may be approaching and you may want to set up a refinance prior to the exchange in case the exchange does not go through.  Other potential business purposes may be to get a lower interest rate or to buy property that is not a part of the exchange. 
  • If you schedule your refinance and exchange so that there is as much time in between them as possible, it should make it less likely that you are audited concerning this issue.  It should also strengthen your argument that the refinance was not set up to avoid the 1031 exchange rules.  If you intend to refinance your relinquished property, you may want to refinance it before you list it for sale.  
  • Some tax advisors believe that it is better to refinance the replacement property after an exchange rather than to refinance the relinquished property before an exchange.

In any event, it is important to consider the risks and discuss your plans with your tax advisor. 

from the First American Exchange Company October Newsletter “The Exchange Update”

 

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IRS’s top 10 tax tips for home sellers

From time to time the IRS releases tips designed to help people with their taxes. Some of these are quite useful.

Last week the agency released “Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home,” (IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15).

As a real estate agent or broker, it is not your job to give home sellers tax advice. Indeed, it is advisable not to, since you could end up getting sued if you give wrong advice.

Instead, refer sellers to this list of IRS tips. It’s a good starting place for them to begin to understand this often complex area of tax law. You could even print it out and hand it to anyone who asks you about these issues.

Here are the IRS’s top 10 tax tips for home sellers:

1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.


2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).


3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.


4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.


5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.


6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.


7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.


8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.


9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.


10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

These tips can be found on the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/content/0,,id=104608,00.html.

from “Real Estate Tax Talk”  By Stephen Fishman, Monday, August 15, 2011.

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.” He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.

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