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Commercial Real Estate Glossary

1031 Exchange
In detail a 1031 Exchange - also known as a Like Kind Exchange, is a way of structuring a sale of commercial real estate so that the seller's profit or gain is not currently taxed. Instead, the property that is sold is replaced with another "like kind" property. If the transaction is properly structured, the seller's profit or gain is deferred to a future date.

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 1031, provides:

"No gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment if such property is exchanged solely for property of like kind which is to be held either for productive use in a trade or business or for investment."

The sale of the relinquished property and the acquisition of the replacement property do not have to be simultaneous. In fact, since the law was modified in 1984, few if any exchanges today are simultaneous. A non-simultaneous exchange is sometimes called a Starker Tax Deferred Exchange (named for an investor who challenged and won a case against the IRS). See Starker v. United States, 602 F.2d 1341, 79-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9541, 44 A.F.T.R.2d 79-5525 (9th Cir. 1979).[1] For a non-simultaneous exchange, the taxpayer must use a Qualified Intermediary, follow guidelines of the Internal Revenue Service, and use the proceeds of the sale to buy more qualifying, like-kind, investment or business property. The replacement property must be "identified" within 45 days after the sale of the old property and the acquisition of the replacement property must be completed within 180 days of the sale of the old property.

Restrictions are imposed on the number of replacement properties which can be identified as potential replacement properties. More than one potential replacement property can be identified as long as you satisfy one of these rules:

o The Three-Property Rule - Up to three properties regardless of their market values. All identified properties are not required to be purchased to satisfy the exchange; only the amount needed to satisfy the value requirement.

o The 200% Rule - Any number of properties as long as the aggregate fair market value of all replacement properties does not exceed 200% of the aggregate Fair Market Value (FMV) of all of the relinquished properties as of the initial transfer date. All identified properties are not required to be purchased to satisfy the exchange; only the amount needed to satisfy the value requirement.

o The 95% Rule - Any number of replacement properties if the fair market value of the properties actually received by the end of the exchange period is at least 95% of the aggregate FMV of all the potential replacement properties identified. In other words, 95% (or all) of the properties identified must be purchased or the entire exchange is invalid.

In order to obtain full benefit, the replacement property must be of equal or greater value, and all of the proceeds from the relinquished property must be used to acquire the replacement property. The taxpayer cannot receive the proceeds of the sale of the old property; doing so will disqualify the exchange for the portion of the sale proceeds that the taxpayer received. For this reason, exchanges (particularly non-simultaneous changes) are typically structured so that the taxpayer's interest in the relinquished property is assigned to a Qualified Intermediary prior to the close of the sale. In this way, the taxpayer does not have access to or control over the funds when the sale of the old property closes.

At the close of the relinquished property sale, the proceeds are sent by the closing agent (typically a title company, escrow company, or closing attorney) to the Qualified Intermediary, who holds the funds until such time as the transaction for the acquisition of the replacement property is ready to close. Then the proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property are deposited by the Qualified Intermediary to purchase the replacement property. After the acquisition of the replacement property closes, the Qualifying Intermediary delivers the property to the taxpayer, all without the taxpayer ever having "constructive receipt" of the funds.

The prevailing idea behind the 1031 Exchange is that since the taxpayer is merely exchanging one property for another property(ies) of "like-kind" there is nothing received by the taxpayer that can be used to pay taxes. In addition, the taxpayer has a continuity of investment by replacing the old property. All gain is still locked up in the exchanged property and so no gain or loss is "recognized" or claimed for income tax purposes.

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