How to avoid paying more in taxes than needed when selling

With potential tax law changes, restrictive rules on evictions and more tenant friendly legislation, some landlords are calling it quits. The low inventory and rising home prices don’t hurt either. If your landlording career is coming to an end – how do you sell your investment property and avoid paying more in taxes than needed?

1031 Starker Exchange into another property

The obvious go-to solution is to use a 1031 Starker Exchange to transfer the proceeds into another rental property. If you don’t want to deal with tenants that kind of defeats the purpose.

If you are willing to stay a landlord for just a while longer consider hiring a management company like Red Umbrella. Then, do a 1031 exchange into a property where you can see yourself living down the line. Your intent has to be to rent the home out at least initially though.

Some examples would be to buy a home in a ski area, a mountain cabin, a home in Florida or a beach home on the outer banks. Rent it out for a few years, then move in and use it as your primary residence. The tax consequences of doing that sort of conversion has changed. It could still give you tax benefits when you eventually do sell. It would also allow you to use the full amount of equity to provide yourself a home.

What is a 1031 Starker Exchange into a Delaware Statutory Trust?

Another less known 1031 option would be to do a Delaware Statutory Trust 1031 Exchange (DST.) Your transaction starts just like a normal 1031 Exchange. Next, instead of identifying and purchasing a replacement property, you would transfer your proceeds into a qualified trust. This option allows for you to pool your money with other investors. This would create a fractional interest in the assets of the trust.

A DST is a passive trust – little input from you as an investor is usually expected or possible. This lack of flexibility also applies to the ability to quickly dispose of it if needed. Typically, the life of the trust is 5 to 10 years. Getting out before the end of the trust period may be expensive and difficult. Per an online estimate it appears a DST return is in the 6-7% return range and may be distributed monthly to your bank account. The minimum investment for a DST is typically $100,000. For more information see this and this.

What is wrong with selling outright?

Typically, the most immediately expensive option is to just sell the home without using a 1031 exchange and “bank” the proceeds. Main issue with this strategy is that it could have significant tax consequences. First, you will need to do something called depreciation recapture of all the depreciation you took on the value of the property over the years. If the home is fully depreciated, that can be quite a chunk of money.

You also have to pay a federal and a state capital gains tax on the proceeds. And, to really cap it off – as a reward for making a profit, you may trigger the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT.)  The only good news? The AMT exemption amounts and phase-out thresholds are temporarily increased until 2025 (due to the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.)

If you plan to sell your investment homes we recommend you consult with your tax accountant before you decide to sell. At Soldsense we help you get started on the process!

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