Recently, I had a taxpayer call me regarding the sale of a rental property. The taxpayer sold the property for approximately $500,000 and there was approximately $100,000 of tax basis remaining after depreciation. The combined federal and state tax exposure was almost $100,000.
The taxpayer indicated he wanted to structure the sale as a like-kind (IRC 1031) exchange as he had already found a replacement property and wanted to defer the income taxes. My first question was, “Did you already close on the sale?” The taxpayer’s response was, “Yes, I received the funds, and deposited the check directly into my bank account.”
It was not fun for me to relay this to the taxpayer, but I had to let him know his receipt of the funds caused a taxable event. I further explained that to structure a 1031 exchange properly, an intermediary was needed to handle the sale and related purchase of the replacement property. Once the taxpayer received the funds, it became a taxable event.
Getting a Like-Kind Exchange Right
To avoid the same error, taxpayers should contact their advisors before completing the sale transaction. I have worked with taxpayers who did not realize a like-kind exchange was available to them, and was able to properly structure the transaction in mere days before the closing of their property.
Following the specified guidelines to completely defer the tax in a like-kind exchange are critical. If you anticipate a sale of real estate and want to defer gain recognition, consult with your tax advisor before closing the sale.
We’ve Got Your Back
Check out my previous blog, Understanding IRC Code Section 1031 and Why You Should Care for more details on properly deferring tax in a like-kind exchange transaction. If you have questions about this type of transaction, give me a call at 201.655.7411 before you close on the sale.