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1031 Program: What Is It and How to Use It?

Published on: August 14, 2023

What is a 1031 Program?

The 1031 Program, named after section 1031 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, lets you as a real estate investor, sell an investment property and reinvest the profits in a new property without immediately incurring capital gains tax. For example, imagine selling rental property A for $500,000 and buying property B for $600,000. Instead of paying tax on your profit from property A, you use it all to invest in B. This strategy helps to grow your real estate portfolio and defer taxes. However, remember to follow strict timing rules to qualify.

A 1031 exchange allows you, as a real estate investor, to sell an investment property and defer capital gains tax by reinvesting the proceeds into a property of equal or greater value. Think of it like trading up in Monopoly, but without the tax hit. The catch? You’ve got to use a qualified intermediary like 1031 Exchange Place to keep everything above board. This method is favored by savvy investors keen on building their portfolios without burdening their profits with taxes.

History and Purpose of the 1031 Program

The IRS 1031 Program was created to encourage investment in real estate

  • The IRS 1031 Program, hailing from the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, has been investors’ best buddy for about a century now.
  • It was designed to stimulate real estate investments by offering tempting fiscal investment options for the deferral of capital gains tax.
  • Here’s the catch: You sell an investment property and swiftly reinvest the proceeds in another ‘like-kind’ property, of equal or greater value.

Example: Say you sell a rental property that has appreciated over time. Instead of paying tax on the profit, you roll those funds into buying another rental property via the 1031 exchange. Voila! Your tax on gains is deferred, and your investment portfolio just grew bigger!

Allows investors to avoid paying taxes on capital gains when selling investment property

The 1031 program, named after an IRS code, is a tax avoidance technique used by real estate investors. Here’s how it works: when you sell your investment property, instead of paying capital gains tax on your profit, you reinvest that money into “like-kind” property. For instance, if you sell a property with a $300,000 profit, you’d typically owe $60,000 in taxes (if your tax rate is 20%). With a 1031 exchange, those taxes are deferred if you use the profit to buy another property of equal or greater value.

Aims to streamline the process of exchanging one property for another

The 1031 Exchange program helps you as a real estate investor transition from one property to another seamlessly. How does it work? Imagine you want to sell Property A to buy Property B. Instead of a typical sale, where you’d pay tax on any gains, the 1031 program allows you to defer those taxes. Here’s the process:

  • You sell Property A.
  • Qualified intermediary holds the proceeds from the sale.
  • The intermediary uses the funds to buy Property B for you.

Intended to help investors optimize their investment portfolios

The 1031 exchange program is your secret tool for smart investing. It helps you leverage your equity to grow your investment portfolio. For instance, you can exchange properties, moving from a less promising location to a more desirable one, aiming for higher future returns.

Beware of possible hurdles though:

  • Finding the right property
  • Adhering to strict time limits
  • Hiring a qualified intermediary to hold the funds during the process

Remember, there’s no cap on how many times you can use this tactic. So, leverage wisely, and keep navigating towards creating your ideal, profitable portfolio. Enjoy the journey of building greater wealth over time with less tax burden.

How Does the 1031 Program Work?

The 1031 exchange program is a handy tool for real estate investors. You can use this perk from the Internal Revenue Code to help grow your capital. Here’s how to navigate through:

  1. Firstly, sell your existing investment property. Use this opportunity to identify some key like-kind properties of equal or greater value.
  2. Make sure to invest the proceeds of the sale into the new properties within the stipulated time periods. This ensures you are following IRS rules to the letter.

Remember, being strategic with your property selection will help you maximize gains. And don’t forget, adhering to timelines is crucial in a successful 1031 exchange!

Benefits of Using the 1031 Program

Save on taxes on the gain from the sale of property

Looking to save on taxes from property sales gains? Use the 1031 program. Here’s how:

  • Sell your investment property and make a profit. Let’s say you sell for a $300,000 profit.
  • Instead of paying up to 20% capital gains tax ($60,000), reinvest your profits.
  • Buy a similar or more expensive property, thereby deferring the tax payment.
  • This only works for investment properties, not primary residences. Exceptions include former residences turned rentals.
  • Documentation matters. Prove your property was used for business to qualify.

Remember, rules are stringent, so expert guidance can help maximize tax savings.

Access to a wide range of property types to exchange

Having access to an array of property types under the 1031 program is advantageous for your investment diversification. Here are a few ways:

  • Raw land can be switched with a rental house, giving you constant income.
  • Trade a quiet office building for a bustling apartment complex to scale your investment.
  • If you’re part of a partnership, a drop-and-swap exchange allows you to invest in a different property rather than cashing out.
  • A tenancy-in-common exchange enables multiple investors to pool funds to secure a more substantial property.

Remember, diversifying your portfolio with different property types can potentially yield better returns.

Ability to reinvest property with no penalty

The 1031 program marvelously allows you to reinvest in property sales with zero capital gains tax penalties. This financial friend empowers you to grow your real estate portfolio seamlessly. For example:

  • You’ve sold a rental property, gaining significant profit.
  • Instead of paying capital gains tax on these profits, you initiate a 1031 exchange.
  • The profits are reinvested into a new property, effectively deferring your capital gains tax.
  • You can even upgrade properties, shift locations, or diversify your portfolio, all without paying immediate taxes.
  • Plus remember, there’s no cap on how many times or how frequently you can perform these exchanges.

Ability to defer taxes on depreciation when replacing property

The 1031 Program allows you to defer taxes on depreciation when replacing property. This key benefit enables you to maximize your investment capital.

Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Depreciation allows real estate owners to deduct the costs from the property’s wear and tear over its useful life. This can lead to lower tax obligations.
  • In usual circumstances, upon the sale of the property, IRS seeks to reclaim some of these deductions. The 1031 exchange can help defer this by carrying the cost basis over to the new property. This means depreciation calculations proceed as if you continued to own the old property.
  • This strategy allows you to keep capital invested in your business instead of paying federal and often, state income taxes.
  • To effectively use this benefit, the replacement property purchased should equal or surpass in value of the property sold. Take the example of Betty who defers $40,700 in taxes by reinvesting in new real estate. Her tax liability is not eliminated but postponed until when she eventually disposes of the replacement property.
  • A noteworthy exception exists: at the point of an inheritor’s death, the deferred taxes do get eradicated due to a “step up” in basis.

Don’t forget, expert guidance from a real estate agent and thorough consultations with an estate planner are essential. These professionals ensure that you’re complying with IRS rules and investing wisely. For instance, your estate planner ensures correct steps are in place for an inheritance, a scenario that can completely erase deferred tax debt under the 1031 exchange. This represents one of the most significant long-term benefits of invoking this tax strategy.

Remember, the 1031 exchange is not only a great tool for property investors but also for business owners wanting to diversify their property type or location. The deferred taxes translate into more money available for reinvestment in the business.

However, be aware that for total deferral of taxes with a 1031 exchange, you need to reinvest all the cash proceeds from the sale, into a replacement property of equal or larger value.

In a nutshell, adopting a 1031 exchange, with the help of knowledgeable professionals, can bring substantial tax benefits while allowing you to shift and upgrade your investments.

Ability to exchange properties of different classes

  • The 1031 Program allows you to exchange properties of different classes. According to IRS requirements, the properties must be “like-kind,” meaning they share the same nature, character, or class.
  • You are not confined to exchanging the exact type or quality. For instance, you can exchange a class C property for a class A to minimize risk.
  • This advantage also helps you manage maintenance effectively. Say goodbye to high maintenance costs by swapping your class D property for a low-maintenance class B property.
  • This program is not limited by geographical location either, meaning you can exchange an apartment in Omaha for a beachfront condo in Hawaii.
  • Remember, your property exchanges are bound by IRS rules, be sure to engage a professional to help you navigate this process.

Increased liquidity for your portfolio

With the 1031 program, you can increase portfolio liquidity swiftly. It lets you:

  • Continually shift your capital for maximized returns, with no limit on the number of exchanges.
  • Boost your portfolio size by leveraging equity.
  • Defer taxes and build greater wealth over time.
  • Exchange riskier assets for stable ones, decreasing your risk.

For instance, you could potentially exchange Class C properties for more secure Class A properties. Remember, finding the right property and adhering to strict timelines is crucial.

Increased flexibility in the way you structure your properties

The 1031 Program offers incredible flexibility to realign your property portfolio. This can mean upgrading from a class C to a less maintenance-intensive class A property, or a shift to a more promising location. Here’s a handy guide to making this happen:

  • For instance, you might want to decrease property maintenance.
  • Remember, finding the right property within the time limits can pose a challenge.
  • Keep in mind that having seasoned intermediaries like Roofstock can make the ordeal easier.

Remember, in this endeavor, there’s no cap on how often or how many exchanges you can make.

How to Use the 1031 Program

Step 1: Understand How the IRS Defines a 1031 Exchange

A 1031 exchange, as defined by the IRS, is a real estate maneuver where you sell an investment or business property and reinvest the funds in like-kind property. This move allows you to defer capital gains taxes. For example, if you sell an office building you own for business purposes and use the funds to acquire a different office building, this can be seen as a 1031 exchange. It’s crucial to follow IRS guidelines, including adhering to a strict timeline and having the same taxpayer on all properties. Be warned, it’s a complex process and professional advice is recommended.

Step 2: Identify eligible properties for a 1031 exchange

To identify eligible properties for a 1031 exchange, carefully follow these steps:

  • Establish the value of your existing property. Your replacement property (or properties) should be of equal or greater value.
  • Choose up to three properties, irrespective of their value, or identify unlimited properties provided their combined value doesn’t exceed 200% of the property you’re replacing. Alternatively, identify unlimited properties valued at 95% or more of the property being replaced.
  • Check if the properties are “like-kind,” as classified by the IRS. This means the properties must be of similar nature, character, or class, and used for business or investment.
  • Identify your properties within 45 days after the sale and purchase them within 180 days.

Expert tip: Always remember, a 1031 exchange involves U.S. to U.S. or non-U.S. to non-U.S. properties only. Never forget to plan your 1031 exchange in advance to avoid last-minute rush.

Step 3: Reach out to a qualified intermediary such as 1031 Exchange Place

  • Start your 1031 exchange process by seeking a reputable Qualified Intermediary (QI) like 1031 Exchange Place.
  • A QI, dubbed an exchange facilitator, holds your sale proceeds during the exchange
  • Ensure your QI selection is meticulous. Your QI’s expertise is crucial to avoiding missed deadlines, potential losses, or unexpected taxes.
  • Strategic collaboration with respected QIs guarantees the success of your 1031 exchange and comprehension of the process, rules, and timing.

Step 4: Follow these three important 1031 exchange rules

  • Rule 1: Ensure your replacement property is of equal or greater value than the one being sold. This isn’t just about cost, but investment value too. Don’t rush—find a property that truly matches or surpasses your original one.
  • Rule 2: Identify your replacement property within 45 days. Time is of the essence in a 1031 exchange—start scouting your options early. If you overshoot this timeline, you could face tax repercussions.
  • Rule 3: Purchase your identified property within 180 days. Don’t dawdle once you’ve chosen your replacement. Engage a reliable real estate expert to expedite the buying process and ensure everything is in order.

Step 5: Explore how a 1031 exchange works in the real world

Step 5: Taking Advantage of a 1031 Exchange

  • Consult with a qualified intermediary about your assets.
  • Determine how a 1031 exchange can elevate your investment property performance.
  • Put suitable replacement properties on your radar.
  • Note the tax advantages but remember, the process can be complex.
  • Stick to the IRS exchange rules and timelines.
  • Lastly, know the exchange isn’t just about tax deferral; it can also align with your broader financial goals.

Step 6: Work to eliminate capital gains tax permanently

  • Begin by selling a like-kind property and reinvesting the proceeds. This lets you defer capital gains taxes on the sale.
  • Ensure the replacement property’s price is equal to or more than the sold property.
  • Hold onto the property for at least 1 year for lower tax rates.
  • Look to pass on the real estate to your heir. Do note that the property’s taxable value will be readjusted to its current market value, erasing any deferred taxation.
  • Understand that this strategy only defers taxes, not eliminates.
  • Always consult a top-notch real estate agent for suitable replacement properties. Remember: tax avoidance is inevitable, but smart planning can delay it!

Step 7: Monitor compliance requirements for each type of 1031 exchange transaction

  1. Always begin with a detailed plan before selling your investment property, considering the strict timeline of a 1031 exchange.
  2. Ensure you have accurate records, including descriptions, dates, values, and any liabilities of the properties exchanged.
  3. Notify the IRS by compiling and submitting Form 8824 correctly to avoid potential penalties.
  4. Choose a reliable qualified intermediary, also known as an exchange facilitator, who will handle the exchange transaction and escrow your sale proceeds.


  • Remember three primary 1031 exchange rules: the replacement property should be of equal or greater value; it must be identified within 45 days, and acquired within 180 days.
  • Engage in a trusted 1031 exchange company such as 1031 Exchange Place to guide you through the process, ensuring accuracy, timeliness, and compliance.

Step 8: Carefully plan the timing of the transfer of replacement property

  • First, sell your existing property and initiate your search for a replacement promptly. The clock starts ticking once your property is sold.
  • You only have 45 days to identify potential replacement properties. This identification needs to be documented and signed by you.
  • Upon identification, swiftly deliver this to the seller of the replacement property or your qualified intermediary.
  • Remember, the closing of your replacement property transaction should happen no later than 180 days from the day you sold your old property.
  • Note: the 180 days include weekends and holidays. So, plan your timeline meticulously!
  • Option: Consider a reverse exchange if you find a perfect replacement before selling. The same timeframes apply.

Step 9: Tell the IRS about your transaction

  • Include clear descriptions of the properties exchanged, dates of identification and transfer, and any existing relationships with other parties involved.
  • Disclose the properties’ values, the adjusted basis of the property given up, and any assumed or relinquished liabilities.
  • They can ensure the correct preparation of tax forms and provide guidance for your specific transaction.
  • Choose someone with experience and knowledge due to the lack of regulation for QIs.

Remember, accuracy and transparency are key, as errors or rule-breaking can result in hefty tax penalties.

Step 10: Get competent help with this complicated stuff

  • Begin by seeking a Qualified Intermediary (QI) for a successful 1031 exchange. Opt for a reliable entity like a bank as there’s no regulation over QIs.
  • Consult a tax advisor familiar with your specific transaction for bespoke guidance.
  • Remember, it’s essential to adhere strictly to the 1031 exchange rules. One misstep could land you a hefty tax bill.
  • Connect with Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) for qualified tax professionals and real estate agents. They’ll help you ensure a smooth exchange.
  • If in doubt, reach out to a SmartVestor Pro. Your situation might require their specialized advice.

We Can Help

Ready to optimize your real estate investments and minimize tax liabilities? Take a step today towards securing your financial future. With nearly 30 years of experience, we at 1031 Exchange Place are equipped with a team of dedicated, licensed 1031 Exchange Advisors ready to guide you through the complex and strategic process of a 1031 Exchange.

  • Speak with a licensed 1031 Exchange Advisor for a FREE consultation
  • Gain an understanding of your potential tax liability
  • Explore the benefits vs. risks of a 1031 exchange
  • Discuss varied 1031 Exchange options available to suit your financial goals

Don’t let tax-deferred 1031 Exchanges intimidate you. With our expert team, we’ll ensure that you find, select, and acquire suitable 1031 exchange replacement properties that meet both your financial and lifestyle objectives. We also offer opportunities for build-to-suit 1031 exchanges, allowing you to use the proceeds from your property sale to fund improvements on your replacement property. Your real estate investment doesn’t stop at the point of purchase, it grows from there.

Take the uncertainty out of your investment decisions with 1031 Exchange Place. Start securing the ideal replacement property for your successful 1031 Exchange. Contact us today and invest in your tomorrow. Take the first step towards a strategic and robust real estate investment today with a 1031 Exchange. Our expertise in developing and implementing well-planned, tax-efficient 1031 Exchanges has made us a go-to partner in the field.

Authored By:

1031 Exchange Advisor

Nicholas has been a dynamic figure in the 1031 exchange industry since 2007. With over two decades of experience in marketing and web development, Nicholas has demonstrated his entrepreneurial spirit by owning an INC 500 company and maintaining a multi-year presence in the INC 5000 list. He is renowned for his dedication and passion for his work. Outside of his professional endeavors, Nicholas is a devoted father to two teenage boys. Together, they share a love for mountain biking and exploring the outdoors on their ATVs every weekend. Nicholas’s commitment to excellence is evident in both his career and personal life.