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Equity and Gain are both important to an exchange, but they are never the same number. Let's take a cursory look at how you determine both equity and gain?

First equity represents the hard-earned value that is yours in any property you own. So, if you take your gross selling price and subtract your closing expenses or closing costs, and then further subtract the amount of any debt, that remaining number which is left over will be your equity.

Now how about capital gain? Well in order to determine gain we need to know what is called your costs basis. And your cost basis is going to be informed by when you bought the property. So when you bought the property you had a purchase price correct? Well that will be the start of your cost basis, which actually changes over time. For instance, if you've done any improvements to the property that amount should be added. And likewise, if you've deducted any depreciation while you've owned the property that will be subtracted. Therefore, lets determine your cost basis and gain this way: Let's find our final cost basis or adjusted basis. That will be our original purchase price, plus any improvement, and then less any depreciation, that gives us our final adjusted basis. Now let's once again take that net selling price from our sale, deduct our final adjusted basis, and bingo, that's our capital gain.

One last thing. Here is a very simple rule that works in exchanges if you want to have a totally tax-deferred transaction. And that is …. do these two things and your exchange should be tax free. Number 1, buy a replacement property that is equal or greater in value than your net selling price, and 2) move all your equity from the old property into the new one. If you do those two things, plus replace your debt, your exchange should be completely tax deferred.

Currently, the Internal Revenue Service considers a tax deferred exchange a real estate transaction in which an investment or income property is sold and replaced within 180 days with other like-kind property. There are several different types of tax deferred exchanges however they all include the same 180 day exchange period as well as a 45 day identification period which starts when the first property is closed. Prior to the end of the Identification period which runs concurrently with the exchange period, Exchangers must identify candidate or targeted replacement properties in which they are interested and any property the Exchager acquires must be a property which they previously identified.

The IRS has set forth two rules and one exception for identification which can be found here.

Any tax deferred exchange completed pursuant to Section 1031 needs to involve like kind properties. So what is the definition of like kind? Well, first, it is important to remember that like kind refers more to the way a property is used rather than the way it looks. For instance, the typical single family detached home can be both a personal residence or an income property, right? Okay, so then the definition for like kind essentially boils down to you needing to use your property in one of two ways. And those two methods which make up like kind are property held for investment, and property held for a productive use in a trade or business. Basically, property held for income. So, as you are out looking for candidate replacement properties, make sure your use of that new property will fit within one of those two categories. And that is the definition of like-kind.

There are only a few rules which are critical to making your exchange qualify and one of the most significant is the allowance of time in which you have available to complete a delayed or deferred exchange. So here are the two time sensitive rules you need to remember.

Okay, first important time rule. You have a total of 180 days in which to sell your relinquished or exchange property and actually buy and close on your replacement property or properties. That is called the exchange period. Also, if you buy more than one, make sure the last one you close is still within that 180 day window or it won't qualify.

Now often you'll hear a qualifier or caveat regarding the 180 day exchange period which can be very important. And that is this: you actually have 180 days or whenever your tax return is due, which comes first. So what does that mean? This………. If you close your relinquished or exchange property late in the year, say for instance around Thanksgiving, you won't have a full 180 days between then and you're your tax return is due on April 15th correct? Okay, so if that is the case for your transaction, in order to get the full 180 days you will be needing to file an extension in order to include your exchange in your return. That's what that tax return qualifier really means.

Okay, second important time rule. In addition, after you close your relinquished or exchange property, you'll have 45 days from that closing in which to name candidate or targets properties in which to exchange. So that first 45 days out of the total of 180 is called the exchange period.

Also, this is important to remember. You must identify under some basic rules. The only time you don't really have to identify is if all your replacement property is already closed within that 45 day window. That's kind of de facto identification anyway isn't it?

There are two rules for identifying and one exception which we cover elsewhere, but let me give you the rule which is used 95% of the time. It is this. The three property rule. And it is this: You can name or identify any three properties of any value. But your identification must be in writing, and it must be transmitted or postmarked within that 45 day period. Now you can use our online identification tool if you prefer. It simply handles the transmission aspect electronically and the signatures are digital. But it is pretty convenient if you are on vacation, and today is your 45 day and all you have is a smart phone. And those are the basic time constraints.

Any property owner or investor who expects to acquire replacement property subsequent to the sale of his existing property should consider an exchange. To do otherwise would necessitate the payment of capital gain taxes in amounts which can exceed 20%-30%, depending on the appropriate combined federal and state tax rates. In other words, when purchasing replacement property without the benefit of an exchange, your buying power is dramatically reduced and represents only 70%-80% of what it did previously.

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