IRS Will Soon Issue Taxpayer Friendly Revenue Procedure for Vacation Homes Used Occasionally for Personal Pleasure.
For years tax controversies have stemmed from taxpayers selling their highly appreciated vacation homes.
The problem has been that these "personal use" vacation properties have fallen outside of the favorable tax treatments that many other real properties qualify for.
First, vacation homes normally do not qualify for the I.R.C. Section 121 Principal Residence Exclusion (provides an exclusion of up to $500,000 of gain for married persons filing a joint return / $250,000 of gain for single persons) because the property has not been used as the taxpayer's primary residence for two of the past five years.
Second, despite the fact that many taxpayers feel that their second home or vacation condo is one of the best "investments" they ever made, and should qualify for tax deferral under I.R.C. Section 1031 (provides for non-recognition or deferral of capital gains tax for exchanges of properties held for "Investment" or for use in a "Trade or Business"); the IRS does not agree that these "personal use" type properties qualify for 1031 exchange treatment. The IRS takes the position that vacation homes are held primarily for personal use rather than for investment. In May of 2007, the IRS successfully convinced the Tax Court that a taxpayer's exchange of a lake-side vacation home for another did not qualify as a 1031 exchange despite the taxpayer's expectation that the property would appreciate in value and could eventually be sold at a gain; Moore v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2007-134.
NEW SAFE-HARBOR: As a matter of administrative ease or convenience, the IRS has laid down a new safe-harbor for vacation home owners. Revenue Procedure 2008-16 gives owners who primarily rent out their vacation homes, but still occasionally use them for some personal use, a safe harbor to qualify for 1031 tax deferred treatment.
Revenue Procedure 2008-16 requires that both the "relinquished property" that is sold and the "replacement property" that is purchased, must be used by the taxpayer consistent with a Qualifying Use Standard:
1. TWO YEAR "OWNERSHIP" TEST: The taxpayer must have owned the vacation home for least 24 months immediately before the exchange;
2. "USE" TEST FOR EACH OF THE PRIOR TWO YEARS: The taxpayer must have within each of the prior two 12-month periods immediately preceding the exchange:
(i) rented out the vacation home to another person or persons at a fair rental for 14 days or more, and
(ii) not used the vacation home for personal use for more than 14 days; or more than 10 percent of the number of days during the 12-month period that the vacation home was actually rented at a fair rental.
A similar Qualifying Use Standard must be applied to any vacation home replacement properties. The taxpayers may take only limited personal use of their rented replacement properties for the 24 month period after completing their 1031 exchange into a vacation home.
Section 1031 has a very broad "like-kind" standard for real property. Generally any real property within the United States that is held for "Investment" or for use in a "Trade or Business" can be exchanged for other US real property that will also be held for "Investment" or for use in a "Trade or Business". Raw land may be exchanged for improved real property. Commercial property may be exchanged for residential rental property. Undoubtedly, many taxpayers who have grown weary of property management will consider purchasing vacation homes to be placed into a rental pools with the fringe benefit of occasional personal.
A smart taxpayer desiring more recreation might consider exchanging into multiple vacation home replacement properties. Each property would have a separate 14 day/ 10% personal use allowance. This is more advantagious than buying only one vacation home replacement property that would allow for less personal usage.
If you would like more information about these new rules please feel free to call toll free at 1-877-373-1031.
Jeff Peterson, JD is the President of Commercial Partners Exchange Company, LLC and is an adjunct Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law.
© 2008 Jeffrey R. Peterson For more information go to: www.1031podcast.com
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