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Tax Basis

Tax basis in the context of the 1031 exchange industry refers to the value assigned to a property for tax purposes that will be used to calculate capital gains tax when the property is sold or exchanged. A 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, allows investors to defer paying capital gains taxes on investment property when it is sold, as long as another “like-kind” property is purchased with the profit gained by the sale of the first property.

Here’s how the tax basis works in a 1031 exchange:

1. Initial Tax Basis: The original tax basis of a property is typically the purchase price, plus any capital improvements made, minus depreciation taken during the period of ownership.

2. Adjusted Tax Basis: Before the exchange occurs, the tax basis may be adjusted due to factors such as depreciation, improvements, and certain expenses or losses. This is known as the “adjusted tax basis.”

3. New Property Tax Basis: In a 1031 exchange, the tax basis of the relinquished property is carried over to the replacement property. This means that the tax basis of the new property will be based on the adjusted tax basis of the sold property, possibly with some further adjustments based on the specific circumstances of the exchange (e.g., if boot is received).

4. Depreciation Recapture: The tax basis is also essential when calculating depreciation recapture, which is the gain realized by the sale of depreciable capital property that must be reported as income. The carried-over basis will affect the depreciation recapture calculations on the eventual sale of the replacement property if it’s not part of another 1031 exchange.


  • Let’s say you purchased a property for $200,000 (your initial tax basis).
  • Over time, you made $50,000 in improvements and claimed $30,000 in depreciation.
  • Your adjusted tax basis would be $220,000 ($200,000 + $50,000 – $30,000).
  • If you then perform a 1031 exchange and acquire a new property, the starting tax basis of the new property would be carried over as $220,000, subject to any further adjustments based on the specifics of the exchange.

Understanding the tax basis in the context of a 1031 exchange is crucial for property investors, as it affects the calculation of deferred capital gains tax and depreciation recapture when the replacement property is eventually sold. Having a proper understanding helps investors in strategic planning and maximizing the benefits of the 1031 exchange.