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Preserve Equity, Build for the Future Using a 1031 Tax Exchange

Thinking of trading up on an investment resort property? If so, look into 1031 Tax Exchanges (based on IRS Code Section 1031), which allow taxpayers to defer taxes on capital gains resulting from the sale of investment real estate, often a sizable sum since combined Federal and State taxes can run as high as 38 percent.

With an exchange, owners are able to preserve equity, while still selling the property. The underlying concept is that an exchange of like-kind property for like-kind property does not generate funds, which can be taxed since the profits go directly into the new or replacement property. To accomplish this, sellers hire a Qualified 1031 Intermediary (QI) to document the sale as an exchange and to receive the funds from the sale. The QI then delivers the funds directly to the closing agent for the replacement property who deeds the property to the taxpayer.

Central to a 1031 Exchange is the interpretation of like-kind property. While the common assumption is that like-kind implies land for land or a condominium for a condominium swap, the interpretation of like kind is actually less literal. Rather, it defines like kind as meaning that both the replacement and the original property must be used as an investment. So land, condominiums, single-family homes and motels can all be exchanged for one another as long as they are used in the exchanger's business or held as an investment. The amount of debt held on the replacement property must be the same as the amount of debt on the original.

1031 Exchanges are complex mechanisms and like all IRS requirements very specific. For example, exchangers have 45 days from closing to identify properties they intend to purchase and 180 days to complete the purchase. Purchase and Sale agreements must include verbiage indicating the intent to affect a 1031 Exchange.

The 45-day time frame used to be onerous for sellers. Now, they can opt for a Reverse Exchange, in which an additional third party called "the exchange accommodation title holder" (EAT) acquires title to the replacement property until the original property sells. Reverse Exchanges shift the 45- and 180-day time frame to the selling side of the transaction. With an Improvement Exchange, which also uses an EAT to hold the replacement property, sellers can build investment properties from the ground up or improve existing properties. The improvements have to be built and paid for during the 180-day period.

If you are interested in a 1031 Exchange, the first step is to consult your tax advisors as well as an attorney or CPA who is knowledgeable with 1031 Exchanges. Make sure that your real estate professional knows you plan to conduct an exchange and be sure that he or she is familiar not only with the process but also with the specific documentation and time frame mandated by the IRS.

This article is intended to inform readers, but does not constitute any financial or legal advice.

Neda Dabestani-Ryba is a Realtor in Maryland. She is a member of the President's Circle of Top Real Estate Professionals. She can be reached at (800) 536-3806 or visit her website for more information:

Prudential Carruthers REALTORS is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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