Category Archives: capital gains

Does My Vacation Home Qualify for a 1031 Exchange?

It depends.

If you are not familiar with what a 1031 Exchange is here is a brief explanation: 1031 Exchanges allow property owners to defer capital gains taxes on the exchange of “like-kind” properties.  The term “like-kind” means two properties that have the same use (for example investment properties can only exchanged for investment properties not personal residences).  Capital Gains taxes are taxes that you must pay on the income you have earned on the sale of property (above and beyond the amount you invested in the property to begin with). The property that you will be purchasing needs to identified within 45 days of the sale of the original property.  Between the time of the sale and the purchase the funds must be held by a qualified intermediary, not in your personal bank account.  Within 180 days of the initial sale, the transaction must be fully completed.  Time limits are calculated in calendar days not business days.

Back in the day, a property owner could sell one property and buy another property using the proceeds from the sale provided that the properties were like-kind (Investment property for Investment Property, Residence for a Residence).  The property owner would not be taxed on the gains from the sale of the original property.  The rules have changed regarding residences.  These days, when you sell your primary residence, you can make up to $250,000 in profit if you’re single or $500,000 if you’re married, and not owe capital gains taxes.  To be eligible for the full exclusion, a taxpayer must have owned the home (and lived in it as a principal residence) for at least two of the five years prior to the sale.  This raises the question – what happens when I sell my vacation home?

A property that has been held for “investment purposes” can be exchanged for another property being held for “investment purposes”.   Here in the Adirondacks, it is rather common for the owners of vacation homes to end up renting out their camps more often then they use them.  The IRS has been kind enough to create a safe harbor for property owners like this.  If the owner uses the properties for personal purposes for 14 days a year or less (or less than 10%of the days that it is rented in a 365-day period) the IRS considers the home a rental property, not a personal-use residence, and the house may be eligible for like-kind exchange.  If you rent out the original property for 2 years before and the new property for 2 years after the exchange (and claim the income) both properties are “investment properties”.

Not willing to rent?  Do you use your property more then allowed by this rule?  Remember, you will only be taxed on the difference between the adjusted basis and the sale price of your home.  The adjusted basis is what you originally paid for the property, including debt, closing and settlement costs, plus any qualifying home improvements you’ve made.  I hope that you have kept receipts for your home improvements because they might just be your ticket out of paying Capital Gains Tax.  Those major improvements add up quickly!  The next question you should ask yourself is “Do I really need to make a profit on the sale of this property for it to have been worth while?”  You’ve used it, and hopefully enjoyed using it.  You may find that the current market value of the home does not exceed what you paid for it, a 1031 exchange may not be necessary.

Still have questions?  You may find this link interesting.  1031info