Biden Tax Plan Proposes Elimination of 1031 Exchanges for High-Net-Worth Individuals
President Biden is proposing an elimination of 1031 exchanges for individuals making more than $400,000 a year. Those who make less would still be eligible. We answer questions about 1031 exchanges and the impact on high earners if it’s eliminated.
Q: What is a 1031 exchange?
A: In real estate, a 1031 exchange is a swap of one investment property held for business or investment purposes for another that allows capital gains taxes to be deferred. It can only be made with “like-kind” properties, and the IRS has tight restrictions on the use of vacation properties.
While the rule is “like-kind,” it doesn’t require the exact same type of property. You can exchange an apartment building for land or a ranch for a strip mall. The rules are liberal. You can even exchange one business for another. The sale and purchase must happen within certain time limits of each other, and the proceeds from the sale are held in escrow by an intermediary pending the swap purchase.1
Q: Are taxes due at the time of the exchange?
A: If your exchange meets the requirements of 1031, you’ll either have no tax or limited tax due at the time of the exchange. Once you sell the property, you’ll pay only one tax, and at a long-term capital gains rate.
Q: Can I do more than one exchange?
A: There are no limits to the number or frequency of exchanges you can do.
Q: What is the benefit of a 1031 exchange?
A: 1031 exchanges benefit individuals and small-business owners by allowing smaller and less capitalized real estate investors to increase their income and net worth by temporarily deferring tax on reinvested real estate sales proceeds.
Q: How might the elimination of exchanges affect investors?
A: The elimination of 1031 exchanges, which have been part of the tax code since 1921, could have a significant negative impact on future real estate values and the economic prosperity of many small investors who own investment property.
Given pandemic-related market uncertainty, investors have been relying on the stability of their real estate holdings as a hedge against a sometimes-unpredictable economy. Adverse changes or elimination of 1031 exchanges could cause significant tax consequences for existing investors and erode value for wealth transfers to future generations.2
Consult With an Advisor
Because 1031 exchanges can be complex, especially around timing, consider working with a wealth advisor to help ensure you meet the IRS requirements for eligibility and the exchange is factored in as part of an overall wealth plan. So far these exchanges have survived as lawmakers have generally seen their benefit on the economy.
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