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*The following is not intended to be legal or accounting advice.  Please contact your CPA or attorney for details regarding your specific needs.  This is information to help facilitate your real estate transaction needs.

Who qualifies for the Section 1031 exchange?

Owners of investment and business property may qualify for a Section 1031 deferral. Individuals, C corporations, S corporations, partnerships (general or limited), limited liability companies, trusts and any other taxpaying entity may set up an exchange of business or investment properties for business or investment properties under Section 1031.

What are the different structures of a Section 1031 Exchange?

To accomplish a Section 1031 exchange, there must be an exchange of properties.  The simplest type of Section 1031 exchange is a simultaneous swap of one property for another. 

Deferred exchanges are more complex but allow flexibility.  They allow you to dispose of property and subsequently acquire one or more other like-kind replacement properties. 

To qualify as a Section 1031 exchange, a deferred exchange must be distinguished from the case of a taxpayer simply selling one property and using the proceeds to purchase another property (which is a taxable transaction).  Rather, in a deferred exchange, the disposition of the relinquished property and acquisition of the replacement property must be mutually dependent parts of an integrated transaction constituting an exchange of property.  Taxpayers engaging in deferred exchanges generally use exchange facilitators under exchange agreements pursuant to rules provided in the Income Tax Regulations. .

A reverse exchange is somewhat more complex than a deferred exchange.  It involves the acquisition of replacement property through an exchange accommodation titleholder, with whom it is parked for no more than 180 days.  During this parking period the taxpayer disposes of its relinquished property to close the exchange.

What property qualifies for a Like-Kind Exchange?

Both the relinquished property you sell and the replacement property you buy must meet certain requirements. 

Both properties must be held for use in a trade or business or for investment.   Property used primarily for personal use, like a primary residence or a second home or vacation home, does not qualify for like-kind exchange treatment.

Both properties must be similar enough to qualify as "like-kind."  Like-kind property is property of the same nature, character or class.  Quality or grade does not matter. Most real estate will be like-kind to other real estate.  For example, real property that is improved with a residential rental house is like-kind to vacant land.  One exception for real estate is that property within the United States is not like-kind to property outside of the United States.  Also, improvements that are conveyed without land are not of like kind to land.

Real property and personal property can both qualify as exchange properties under Section 1031; but real property can never be like-kind to personal property. In personal property exchanges, the rules pertaining to what qualifies as like-kind are more restrictive than the rules pertaining to real property.  As an example,  cars are not like-kind to trucks. 

Finally, certain types of property are specifically excluded from Section 1031 treatment. Section 1031 does not apply to exchanges of:

  • Inventory or stock in trade
  • Stocks, bonds, or notes
  • Other securities or debt
  • Partnership interests
  • Certificates of trust

Time Requirements:

The first limit is that you have 45 days from the date you sell the relinquished property to identify potential replacement properties.  The identification must be in writing, signed by you and delivered to a person involved in the exchange like the seller of the replacement property or the qualified intermediary.  However, notice to your attorney, real estate agent, accountant or similar persons acting as your agent is not sufficient. 

Replacement properties must be clearly described in the written identification.  In the case of real estate, this means a legal description, street address or distinguishable name. Follow the IRS guidelines for the maximum number and value of properties that can be identified. 

The second limit is that the replacement property must be received and the exchange completed no later than 180 days after the sale of the exchanged property or the due date (with extensions) of the income tax return for the tax year in which the relinquished property was sold, whichever is earlier. The replacement property received must be substantially the same as property identified within the 45-day limit described above.

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