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Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow for Commercial Properties

Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow for Commercial Properties

Let’s look at how cost segregation can increase cash flow for commercial properties. Have you recently built, purchased, expanded or renovated a commercial property? If so, there may be significant untapped tax savings in the property or facilities. A cost segregation study can unlock those savings through greater tax deductions, accelerated depreciation and increased cash flow. Here’s how it works: Portions of a new or existing building are reclassified as “personal property” or “land improvement.” This cost classification can be depreciated over a shorter five, seven or 15 year period as opposed to the standard 39-year depreciable life of a commercial building.

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What if you built, renovated, expanded or purchased a building in prior years? Cost segregation is still an option. The IRS allows taxpayers to change prior accounting methods to take advantage of these previously understated depreciation deductions. This can be done without amending tax returns and can generate a relatively large tax deduction in the year of change.

Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow Better than Ever (Thanks to Tax Reform)

Cost Segregation Can Increase Cash Flow Better than Ever  thanks to tax reform’s enhancement of bonus depreciation. In general, bonus depreciation is applicable to depreciable business assets with a recovery period of 20 years or less. Tax reform doubled bonus depreciation from 50 to 100 percent for qualifying property with acquisition and in-service dates between September 27, 2017 and December 31, 2022. This means that 100 percent of qualifying costs would be fully depreciated and recognized in year one and only the remaining building cost would depreciate going forward over 39 years. After 2022, the bonus rate decreases by 20 percent annually, so the time to act is now.

REAL RESULTS FOR REAL PROPERTIES

RKL performs over 80 studies every year for companies in a variety of industries, including rental real estate, office buildings, hotels/motels, golf courses, auto dealerships, manufacturing facilities, warehouses and more.

Here are two recent examples to demonstrate the potential savings from a cost segregation study.

• Construction of a new hotel facility in 2018: Of the total project cost of $13.5 million, RKL identified $5 million as personal property and land improvements. This cost segregation combined with enhanced 100 percent bonus depreciation a present value of the tax savings of $958,000 (using a 37 percent federal tax rate and six percent discount rate), with projected additional depreciation deductions of $4 million for a tax savings of $1.5 million.

• Turn-key construction of a new medical office in 2017: Of the total project cost of $2.4 million, RKL identified $1 million as personal property and land improvements. This cost segregation combined with enhanced 50 percent bonus depreciation produced a present tax savings of $200,400 (using a 42.67 blended tax rate and six percent discount rate), with projected additional depreciation deductions of $695,000 over the next seven years. This will produce tax savings of $296,500 over that seven-year period with $233,200 in the first year alone.

• 2018 look-back study for a previously purchased office/distribution warehouse facility: RKL identified $326,200 of the original $1.375 million building cost as personal property and land improvements. This resulted in a one-time additional depreciation deduction in the current year’s tax return of $170,700. To obtain an analysis of potential cost segregation tax savings, contact RKL today.

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Cost Segregation Misconceptions Prevent Tax Savings

Cost Segregation MisconceptionsProperty owners misconceptions about cost segregation are leaving money on the table. In 2001, an IRS ruling allowing taxpayers to “catch up” on prior years’ depreciation deductions was a significant upgrade to the benefit of cost segregation studies. Yet, as we approach midyear 2018, it’s estimated that 9 out of 10 commercial real estate owners don’t take advantage of this exceptional savings tool on a regular basis.

This inaction can easily be traced to misconceptions that persist in today’s marketplace. They are preventing the capture of large tax savings and increases in cash flow for commercial property owners and investors.

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Cost Segregation Misconception #1:

The real property (building) depreciable value should be at least $10 million. The size of any tax savings that results from a cost segregation study is tied directly to the value of the property. However, a building does not need to be worth several million dollars to benefit. Because the realized savings are generally 7-10% of the value, even a $500,000 property could generate a savings of $35,000-$50,000, a large sum for many small business owners. Multiply that by larger property values and the savings will quickly exceed six figures. Commercial properties valued at $500k-$5 million have been the most underserved due to this
most common misconception.

Cost Segregation Misconception #2:

Cost segregation studies are just too expensive to see any real return. For the $500,000 property, the net cost of a study would be in the $3500-$4500 range. This provides a return of 8-12 times the investment. What owner wouldn’t be pleased to get their money back several times over? There are few business investments that can generate that level of return, especially on an immediate basis, in a single tax year.

Cost Segregation Misconception #3:

A cost segregation study should be done within the first 3 years of ownership, or the opportunity is lost. This was addressed in the 2001 IRS ruling that created the single most awesome feature of cost segregation – “catch up” depreciation. In a given tax year, a study allows the taxpayer to deduct all of the depreciation they could have taken since Day One of acquisition, minus the depreciation that was taken. Accumulated over all the years of ownership, this difference, and the resulting tax savings, can be quite substantial.

To understand how this all comes together, let’s look at a real-life example:

Owners of a medical services business were making plans for retirement. This included the sale of their office building which they had acquired 12 years earlier. At that time, it had a depreciable real property value of about $1,340,000. A cost segregation study was never performed during their years of ownership.

The tax advisor for a potential buyer suggested a study be completed now to “unlock” the tax savings benefit they had been sitting on. They were then able to deduct $303,000 in additional “catch up” depreciation, leading to a tax savings of $121,300. This was a very surprising and welcome boost to their retirement fund, extra money they didn’t know they had. Cost segregation companies will typically provide a free, no-obligation analysis for any commercial property. Owners are then positioned to weigh the study’s cost against the possible huge financial return without wasting time or money.

About John Ottino:

John is a Consultant serving the Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey region for Fuller CSS. FullerCSS, cost segregation specialists, with on-staff engineers and accountants, has completed hundreds of tax-savings studies for real estate investors and commercial property owners.

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