What is a 1031 Exchange and why you should use it!

A 1031 Exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, is a provision in the US tax code that  allows real estate investors to defer capital gains taxes when they sell one investment property  and reinvest the proceeds into another “like-kind” property. Here are a couple examples of ways to use a 1031 Exchange. Tax referral, the most significant advantage of a 1031 exchange is  the ability to for capital gains taxes on the sale of appreciated property. By reinvesting the proceeds into a like-kind property, you can postpone paying taxes until you sell the replacement  property for cash. Wealth accumulation, investors can use 1031 Exchanges to continually roll  over their investments into larger more profitable properties, effectively leveraging the growth  of their Real Estate Portfolios without losing a significant portion of their gains to taxes.  Diversification, a 1031 Exchange provides flexibility to diversify your real estate holdings. You  can exchange one type of property (residential rental property) for another type (commercial  property) or change properties located in different geographical areas. Estate Planning, investors can use 1031 Exchanges as part of their estate planning strategy to pass on assets to  heirs with a stepped-up basis, potentially reducing the future tax burden on their heirs.

Here are  seven important things to know when thinking about using a 1031 Exchange:

1. Qualifying Properties

To qualify for a 1031 exchange, both the property you’re selling (the  relinquished property) and the property you’re purchasing (the replacement property) must  meet certain criteria. Both properties must be held for investment or for productive use in a  trade or business. Personal residence Do Not Qualify. 

-Both properties must be of like-kind, which means they must be of the same nature or  character. Real property (land, buildings) generally qualifies as like-kind to other real property.

2. Identification of replacement

After selling your relinquished property, you have 45 days to  identify potential replacement properties. You could identify up to three properties without  regard to their fair market value, or you can identify more than three properties as long as their  combined fair market value does not exceed 200% of the value of the relinquish property.

3. Purchase of replacement property

Once you’ve identified replacement properties, you have  180 days from the sale of the relinquish property (or until the due date of your tax return,  including extensions, for the year and in which the relinquished property was sold, whichever  comes first) to purchase one or more of that identified replacement properties.

4. Qualified Intermediary (QI)

To facilitate the 1031 exchange and ensure compliance with IRS  rules, you typically work with a qualified intermediary. The QI holds the proceeds from the sale  of the relinquished property and then uses those funds to acquire the replacement property.  You must not have direct access to the sale proceeds to maintain the tax-deferred status of the  exchange. 

5. Completing the Exchange

The exchange is considered complete when you acquire the  replacement property within the specified timeframes. The new property should have a  purchase price equal to or greater than the relinquished property’s sale price. Any funds not  used to purchase replacement property may be taxable. 

6. Report the 1031 Exchange to the IRS

Report the 1031 exchange on your tax return by filing form 8824. This form provides details about the exchange and calculates any taxable gain that  is deferred. 

7. Defer Capital Gains Tax

By following these steps, and completing a valid 1031 exchange, you  will defer paying capital gains tax on the sale of the relinquished property until you decide to  sell the replacement property without using a 1031 exchange.  

It’s important to know that 1031 Exchanges have strict rules and requirements, and failure to  comply with these rules can result in the disqualification of exchange, and the immediate taxation of capital gains. Working with a qualified intermediary and consulting with a tax  professional or an attorney experienced in 1031 Exchange is highly recommended. Using a 1031  Exchange can be a powerful tool for real estate investors to grow their portfolios and defer  taxes on property appreciation to build their portfolio.


#1 By Michael Lantrip at 10/12/2023 4:24 PM

Excellent article! I wrote the book on Section 1031 Exchanges ("How To Do A Section 1031 Like Kind Exchange") and I can vouch for the accuracy of everything here. Good job.

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