Can You Use a 1031 Exchange for Non-Real Estate Assets?

Section 1031 exchanges are not limited to real estate.

To qualify for the tax benefits of an exchange under Section 1031, the property you want to exchange (or relinquish) needs to be “held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment.”

The property does not have to be real estate.

But when you’re exchanging non-real estate assets, the requirement that the relinquished property and the replacement property be “like kind” is much more narrowly construed.

Here is an example:

Stan is an avid collector of boxing memorabilia. His collection includes posters for the famous fight between Joe Lewis and Max Schmeling, several pairs of boxing gloves used in the ring by Mohammed Ali, a gold platted championship belt once owned by Jake LaMotta, a mouth piece that belonged to Sugar Ray Robinson, a pair of Archie Moore’s boxing trunks, and a wedding ring worn by Gentleman Jim Corbett, among other treasures.

He is thinking about selling his collection to buy a tenancy-in-common interest in a new hotel that his friend Barbara is opening in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Stan has heard about the tax benefits of using Section 1031. Can he use Section 1031 to exchange his collection of boxing memorabilia for an ownership interest in Barbara’s Las Vegas hotel.

1031 exchanges are not limited to real estate. One can also exchange other types of tangible non-real estate property held for investment or used in a business. But the “like-kind” requirement is interpreted much more narrowly by the IRS for non-real property than for real property.

While any real property held for trade or business use or for investment and located in the United States can be exchanged for any other real property held for trade or business use or for investment use and located in the United States, non-real estate property exchanged under Section 1031 must be essentially the same type of asset.

Airplanes can be exchanged for airplanes,trucks for trucks, pizza ovens for pizza ovens, oil digging equipment for oil digging equipment, but airplanes cannot be exchanged for trucks and oil digging equipment cannot be exchanged for pizza ovens.

Because Stan wants to exchange his boxing memorabilia for a tenancy-in-common interest in a hotel – an asset of a very different kind – the exchange would not be allowed under Section 1031.

If Stan wants to exchange his boxing memorabilia under Section 1031, he should consult his tax advisor to determine what kind of assets would be considered “like-kind” to his collection.

To contact Melissa J. Fox about serving as a qualified intermediary or for other 1031 exchange services, send an email to strategicfox@gmail.com

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