To qualify for Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, the properties exchanged must be held for productive use in a trade or business, or for investment. Stocks, bonds, and other properties are listed as expressly excluded by Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, although securitized properties are not excluded. The properties exchanged must be of “like kind”, i.e., of the same nature or character, even if they differ in grade or quality. Personal properties of a like class are like-kind properties. Personal property used predominantly in the United States and personal property used predominantly elsewhere are not like-kind properties.
Real properties generally are of like kind, regardless of whether the properties are improved or unimproved. However, a real property within the United States and a real property outside the United States would not be like-kind properties. Generally, “like kind” in terms of real estate, means any property that is classified real estate in any of the 50 U.S. states, and in some cases, the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Taxpayers who hold real estate as inventory, or who purchase real estate for re-sale, are considered “dealers”. These properties are not eligible for Section 1031 treatment. However, if a taxpayer is a dealer and also an investor, he or she can use Section 1031 on qualifying properties. Personal use property will not qualify for Section 1031.
Taxpayers may wonder whether items such as equipment used on a property are included in the lump-sum sale of the property, and whether recognition of related gains may be deferred. Under Treasury regulation §1.1031(k)-1(c)(5)(i), property that is transferred together with the larger item of value that does not exceed 15% of the fair market value of the larger property does not need to be identified within the 45-day identification period, but still needs to be exchanged for like kind property to defer gain.
Cash to equalize a transaction cannot be deferred under Code Section 1031 because cash is not of like kind. This cash is called “boot” and the gain, to the extent of the receipt of this cash, taxed at a normal capital gains rate.
If liabilities assumed by the buyer exceed those of the seller (taxpayer), the realized gain of the seller will be recognized. If, however, the seller assumes a greater liability than the buyer, the realized loss cannot offset any realized and recognized gain of receiving boot such as cash or other personal property considered boot.