by rliland, Contributor James Miller, Assistant General Counsel, IPX1031®
Over the past two years there have been numerous proposals to restrict or eliminate I.R.C. §1031 tax deferred exchanges. These proposals are based on misunderstandings about §1031 and do not account for the powerful stimulus impact that §1031 exchanges have on the US economy. This article will debunk a few of those myths and discuss the findings of a couple of recently released studies that quantify just how important §1031 exchanges are to a healthy US economy.
Myth: Section 1031 allows taxpayers to avoid capital gains taxes, and to defer gain indefinitely.
Truth: Under §1031, taxes are deferred—not eliminated. Section 1031 exchanges structured under the IRS regulatory safe harbors are neither tax savings vehicles nor “abusive tax avoidance schemes.” Payment of tax occurs: 1) upon sale of the replacement asset and 2) incrementally, through increased income tax due to reduced depreciation deductions. A recently conducted study entitled “The Economic Impact of Repealing or Limiting Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges in Real Estate” conducted by Professors David Ling and Milena Petrova (“Ling & Petrova Study”) examined more than 1.6 million commercial real estate transactions between 1997 and 2014. It found that nearly eighty-eight percent of properties acquired in a 1031 exchange were ultimately sold in a taxable sale, rather than a subsequent exchange.
Myth: The absence of a precise definition of “like-kind” is administratively difficult for the IRS and creates the opportunity for abuse.