Defer a Current Tax Bill with a Like-Kind Exchange

Defer A Current Tax Bill With A Like Kind Exchange

Written by Chris Felton

January 31, 2024

Exploring strategies to defer tax bills on gains from appreciated commercial or investment real estate? A Section 1031 “like-kind” exchange could be the key. This transaction involves exchanging the property instead of selling it, offering a tax-deferred solution to navigate market challenges and capitalize on profitable opportunities.

Understanding Like-Kind Exchanges: An Overview

A like-kind exchange encompasses any exchange of real property held for investment or business use (relinquished property) for like-kind investment, trade, or business real property (replacement property). While like-kind is broadly defined, properties held primarily for sale are excluded from this definition.

Tax Rules and Eligibility: Asset-for-Asset or Boot

Post the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, tax-deferred Section 1031 treatment is restricted for personal property exchanges completed after December 31, 2017. If uncertain about eligibility, seeking professional advice is crucial. In a straight asset-for-asset exchange, no gain is recognized, and the basis in the replacement property aligns with the relinquished property. However, when cash or other property (boot) is involved due to property value disparities, gain recognition is limited to the amount of boot received.

Illustrative Example: Navigating the Exchange Process

Consider a scenario where business property with a $100,000 basis is exchanged for a $120,000 building and $15,000 in cash. While the realized gain is $35,000, only the cash received ($15,000) is recognized. The basis in the new building is adjusted accordingly.

Debt Considerations: Boot in the Context of Debt Relief

If the property involves debt relief, it is treated as boot. This is because assuming someone else’s debt is akin to receiving cash. However, the treatment of boot is contingent on the net debt relief, ensuring a nuanced understanding when debt is a factor in the exchange.

Like-kind exchanges provide a tax-deferred avenue for disposing of investment, trade, or business real property. Complying with the eligibility criteria and understanding the intricacies of the exchange process are essential for maximizing the benefits of this tax strategy.

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Chris Felton
I joined the Mequon office as a Senior Tax Manager with over 20 years of public accounting experience. I provide strategic tax planning, consulting and compliance services to businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations focusing on saving my clients tax dollars while providing excellent client service.

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