Tag Archives: Martin Abo


Sale and Leaseback of Commercial Real Estate

Sale and Leaseback of Commercial Real EstateConfer with the professionals at WCRE or ask us for a seasoned real estate or tax attorney but here’s one technique Abo has seen work well with business clients. Although real estate is generally thought of as an illiquid asset, some liquidity can be achieved by taking out a loan backed by the property. Alternatively, a sale and leaseback may be used effectively if a company’s balance sheet is burdened with excessive debt or just having difficulty in obtaining new capital. Typically, the transaction involves the company owned property being sold to a third party and then leased back to the company under a long-term lease.

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Sale and leaseback transactions may be on the rise but clients need to be aware that the IRS often focuses on transactions between closely-held corporations and their controlling shareholder to make sure that these transactions benefit the company as well as the shareholder. In one common type of sale and leaseback transaction, the company sells the land with a building on it to the shareholder and, in turn, the shareholder leases it back to the company. Some of the financial and tax benefits we’ve seen have included:

The rental deductions the company could take might be significantly larger than the former depreciation deductions if the property had been in service for many years.

After the sale and the leaseback transaction, the shareholder’s basis in the property will be its fair market value which is usually greater than the price paid for the property by the corporation. Thus, the shareholder’s depreciation deduction would be much greater than what was previously available to the corporation (also still need to consider the tax consequences of the sale to the corporation).

The sale and leaseback may enable the shareholder to generate passive rental income that could be offset
against passive losses of the shareholder.

The IRS would obviously be concerned that these transactions have economic substance and that they are
based on reasonable market conditions, and not just designed to generate larger tax deductions. Thus, for
a sale to be valid, the controlling shareholder should have taken an equity interest in the property and also
assumed the risk of loss. For the leaseback to be valid, four tests come to mind that really should be met:

1. The useful life of the property should exceed the term of the lease.

2. Repurchase of the property by the corporation at the end of the lease term should be at fair market value and not at a discount.

3. If the leaseback allows for renewal, the rate should be at a fair rental value (speak to WCRE, not necessarily the accountant).

4. The shareholder should have a reasonable expectation that he or she will generate a profit from the sale and leaseback transaction based on the value of the property when it is eventually sold and the rental obtained during the lease term.

I suspect one of the biggest risks for the seller-lessee is the loss of a valuable asset that could have substantially appreciated over its useful life. Also, the rental market could drop, leaving the seller locked into a rental rate in excess of fair value. On the other side of the table, the seller could move or default, leaving the buyer with unattractive real estate in a soft market.

Even if there are no other problems, the benefits of the deal could be substantially reduced if the IRS deems that it is merely a “financial lease.” In that case, the IRS will treat the seller-lessee as the true owner of the real estate, with all the appropriate tax assessed, and the buyer-lessor will be treated as a lender-mortgagee.

Since sale and leaseback transactions can be quite complicated and also have to pass IRS muster, as I stated earlier, whether you are a buyer, seller or investor, you are well advised to consult with WCRE and seasoned real estate/tax counsel about your financial and tax consequences and the manner of structuring and implementing them to withstand possible IRS challenge.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principle of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com.

 

Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF
307 Fellowship Road, Suite 202
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
(856) 222-4723
marty@aboandcompany.com
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Why Business Owners Should Own Real Estate Personally

Let’s explore why business owners should own real estate personally rather than in a separate corporation. A frequent mistake made by small business owners is to have the operating corporation own the real estate, or to have a separate C corporation own the property and lease it to the business. The reason is that when the company eventually disposes of the property, usually after it has significantly appreciated and been substantially depreciated for tax purposes, a double tax bill will result. First, the corporation will be taxed on the appreciation upon the disposition of the real estate, and then, the shareholder(s) will be taxed on the proceeds of the disposition when they are distributed to them as a dividend or through liquidation. The tax traps are not limited to C corporations. Holding real estate in an S corporation has its own pitfalls. Mortgage debt does not constitute “basis” for tax losses when the accompanying real estate is owned in an S corporation. As most real estate investments yield potentially deductible losses after factoring depreciation on the structure, this could eliminate the tax benefits for a great deal of investors.

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Why business owners should own real estate personally rather than in a separate corporation.

A better approach is for the business owners to own the real estate personally in a limited liability company or
even in a partnership with other investors, and then lease it to the operating business. Among the advantages;

  • The business owner can sell the real estate interest for his or her own account, avoiding tax at the corporate level.
  • The owner can refinance the property for his or her own benefit.
  • Lease payments received by the property owner are not subject to employment taxes and are deductible
    by the company as a business expense.

If the property owner dies while still owning the property, heirs will get it at its stepped-up basis, eliminating tax on all of the gain resulting from appreciation. It’s particularly important for small business owners to engage in careful tax planning with respect to real estate being acquired for use by their business, and I’m sure our buds at WCRE and attorneys they deal with receive frequent requests for assistance with appropriate business and tax strategies as do we at Abo and Company.

While we’re talking real estate and hopefully that which is not titled in corporate form, do you own a property
that has appreciated considerably and that you want to sell? Are you concerned about incurring a large capital
gains tax liability? We reminded WCRE readers in a previous suggestion but one option is to structure the sale as an installment sale. Here the buyer pays the cost of the property plus interest in regular installments, frequently for a period of 5 years, enabling the seller to reflect the capital gain for tax purposes over the entire payment period. Sellers who decide on this strategy are cautioned, however, that an installment sale carries more risk than an outright sale of the property. Thus, the seller needs to:

  • Carefully assess the creditworthiness of the buyer and possibly obtain personal guarantees if the purchaser is a business.
  • Evaluate the future income producing capability of the property to make sure it provides sufficient cash flow to enable the buyer to make the payments.
  • Use an interest rate that is competitive with current market rates in the area so as not to squash the deal.
  • Obtain a down payment of at least 20% to have a cushion in the event of buyer default, and to cover the
    expenses if foreclosure becomes necessary.

Business property transactions are often complex, and the services of knowledgeable professional advisors can be vital in developing strategies that make it possible to bring a contemplated transaction to a successful conclusion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principle of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com.  

 

Commercial Real Estate Tax Deduction Restrictions

commercial real estate tax deduction restrictions.Let’s take a quick look at some 2018 tax law changes affecting commercial real estate tax deduction restrictions. Below please find some insight into recent tax changes affecting commercial real estate tax deductions.

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Here are some items that come to mind:

(1) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enables investment real estate owners to still defer capital gains taxes using section 1031 like-kind exchanges. There were no new restrictions on 1031 exchanges of real property made in the law. However, the new law repeals 1031 exchanges for all other types of property that are not real property. This means like-kind exchanges of personal property will no longer be allowed after 2017 for collectibles, franchise rights, heavy equipment and machinery, collectibles, rental vehicles, trucks, etc. The rules apply to real property not generally held for resale (such as lots held by a developer).

(2) The capital gain tax rates stayed the same so a real estate owner selling an investment property can potentially owe up to four different taxes: (1) Deprecation recapture at 25% (2) federal capital gain taxed at either 20% or 15% depending on taxable income (3) 3.8% net investment income tax (“NIIT”) when applicable and (4) the applicable state and local tax rate.

(3) The tax law creates a new tax deduction of 20% for pass-through businesses. This gets tricky but here goes. For tax years 2018-2025, an individual generally may deduct 20% of qualified business income from a partnership, S corporation, or sole proprietorship. The 20% deduction is not allowed in computing Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), but is allowed as a deduction reducing taxable income. 

Restrictions on Tax Deductions

(1) Mostly, the deduction cannot exceed 50% of your share of the W-2 wages paid by the business. The limitation
can be computed as 25% of your share of the W-2 wages paid by the business, plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis
(the original purchase price) of property used in the production of income.

(2) The W-2 limitations do not apply if you earn less than $157,500 (if single; $315,000 if married filing jointly).

(3) Certain personal service businesses are not eligible for the deduction, unless their taxable income is less than
$157,500 for singles and $315,000 if married. A “specified service trade or business” means any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners, or which involves the performance of services that consist of investing and investment management trading, or dealing in securities, partnership interests, or commodities. (It appears President Trump liked real estate people but did not like professionals like lawyers, doctors, accountants and other consultants).

(4) The exception to the W-2 limit and the general disallowance of the deduction to personal service businesses is phased out over a range of $50,000 of income for single taxpayers and $100,000 for married taxpayers filing
jointly. By the time income for a single taxpayer reaches $207,500 or $415,000 for a married-filing-jointly
taxpayer, the W-2 limitation will apply in full (i.e. personal service professionals get no deduction).

(5) The new tax law increased the maximum amount a taxpayer may expense under Section. 179 to $1,000,000 and increased the phaseout threshold to $2,500,000. Interestingly, the new law also expanded the definition of Section. 179 properties to include certain depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging. It also expanded the definition of qualified real property eligible for Section 179 expensing to include the following improvements to nonresidential real property: roofs; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning property; fire protection and alarm systems; and security systems

(6) State and local taxes paid regarding carrying on a trade or business, or in an activity related to the production of income, continue to remain deductible. A rental property owner can deduct property taxes associated with a business asset, such as any rental properties. Don’t confuse such with the itemized deduction for your personal residence or vacation home which is now limited.

(7) While the prior law generally allows a deduction for business interest expenses, the new tax act limits that deduction to the business interest income plus 30% of adjusted taxable income. However, taxpayers (other than tax shelters) with average annual gross receipts for the prior three years of $25 million or less are exempt from this limitation. Real estate businesses can elect out of the business interest deduction limitation, but at the cost of longer depreciation recovery periods—30 years for residential real property and 40 years for nonresidential real property. If a real estate business does not elect out of the interest deduction limitation, then residential and nonresidential real property depreciation recovery periods are maintained at 27.5 years and 39 years, respectively.

Phew-there you have taste of what we’re going or at least as we see general changes directly or even indirectly
affecting real estate peeps. As you can see, the new law will bring a lot of changes (both good and bad) to individual and business taxpayers. On the plus side, this means more planning opportunities for many although looking for answers can be problematic as we all try to navigate through uncertain territory. These comments only touch the surface of one of the biggest tax overhauls in the nation’s history. Stay tuned and do stay close to your tax attorney and accountant.….

 

Currently Proposed Business Tax Reform Bills

Business Tax Reform BillsThe proposed tax reform bills are a topic you can’t escape these days. With proposals in both the House and the Senate, we thought it would help to review some changes that could affect your business in 2018. Alas, this time around, year-end tax planning for our business clients is complicated by the possibility of major tax reform that could take effect next year. The business tax reform proposals are ambitious in scope and would generally be good news for many businesses and owners we advise (for which we thank you). However, tax rate cuts and other pro-business changes could be balanced by eliminating some longstanding tax breaks. There is no guarantee that any bill will actually get through Congress and become law. Stay tuned for developments, and be ready to move fast near year-end once the future becomes known.

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Anyway, considering the proposals in both the House and the Senate, we thought it would be helpful to at least
review some changes we at Abo and Company think may affect your business in 2018. Not a business or self-employed, pass this email along.

• Section 179 Deduction. For tax years beginning in 2018 through 2022, the House tax reform bill would increase the maximum Section 179 deduction to a whopping $5 million per year, adjusted for inflation. The maximum deduction would phase out at $20 million (adjusted for inflation). The Senate would increase the maximum annual Section 179 deduction to $1 million and increase the deduction phase-out threshold to $2.5 million (both numbers would be adjusted annually for inflation).

• Bonus Depreciation. Both the House and Senate tax reform bills would allow unlimited 100% first-year depreciation for qualified assets acquired and placed in service after 9/27/17 and before 1/1/23.

• Tax Rate on Pass-through Income. The House bill would install a maximum 25% federal income tax rate for income from a pass-through entity, subject to certain restrictions. The Senate bill would generally allow an individual taxpayer to deduct 17.4% of business income from a pass-through entity.

• Corporate Tax Rate. The House bill would tax C corporation income at a flat 20% rate for tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond. The rate for personal service corporations would be a flat 25%. The Senate bill would also install a flat 20% corporate rate, but it wouldn’t take effect until tax years beginning in 2019.

• Net Operating Losses (NOLs). Under both the House and Senate tax reform bills, taxpayers could generally use an NOL carryover to offset only 90% of taxable income (versus 100% under current law). Under both bills, NOLs couldn’t be carried back to earlier tax years but could be carried forward indefinitely.

• More Businesses Could Use Cash-method Accounting. The House tax reform bill would allow a C corporation or partnership with a C corporation partner to use the cash method of accounting if its annual gross receipts for the prior three years don’t exceed $25 million. The Senate bill would set the threshold at $15 million.

• Limits on Deducting Interest Expense. Under the House tax reform bill, deductions for business interest expense in tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond generally couldn’t exceed 30% of the business’s adjusted
taxable income (subject to exceptions). Under the Senate tax reform bill, business interest expense for tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond would be limited to the business interest income plus 30% of adjusted taxable income.

• Deductions and Credits. Both the House and Senate bills would eliminate the domestic production activities deduction and certain tax credits.

Other important changes have been proposed. Stay tuned….

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principal of Abo and Company, LLC and its affiliate, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com.

Protect Your Assets Using Proper Corportate & LLC Form

corporate llc

A prime reason for incorporating or forming a corporate LLC (Limited Liability Company) is the limited liability that it offers its owners. The owners generally have no personal responsibility for the debts, obligations or liabilities beyond their initial investment in the business (as long as they didn’t sign for anything personal). But the limited liability may be lost if the shareholders/members don’t act like persons doing business in the proper corporate LLC form.

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Then creditors may enlist the help of attorneys and forensic accountants (that be us) to “pierce the corporate veil” and pin personal liability on the owners for what otherwise would be corporate/LLC debts and liabilities. The risk is often particularly acute for sole proprietorships and partnerships switching to the corporate LLC form.

They’re apt to ignore the change and the requirements of corporate or LLC operation (board meetings, shareholder meetings, notice of meetings, waiver notice, motions, resolutions, voting procedures, proxies, election of officers, fixing of compensation, etc.). They may treat the corporate LLC treasury as their own. At the very beginning of corporate or LLC operations, they may neglect to do such simple things as notifying creditors of the change, consistently using the “Inc.” or LLC designation on business letterhead, the business checking account, business licenses and the like, signing correspondence and documents as an officer/member, and so forth.

Failure to comply with one or more of these corporate requirements won’t necessarily be “fatal”. To play it safe, have your lawyer supply you with a list of essential “housekeeping” chores to preserve limited liability. Of course, liability exposure questions almost always turn on state law which is why we always advise clients to seek competent legal counsel for answers to all specific questions about the liability aspects of business and investment operations. In our line of work, an abiding principle is “One size doesn’t fit all”. Thus, we’d be happy to recommend one or more lawyers we’ve worked with seasoned in this arena.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF is a principle of Abo and Company, LLC AND ITS AFFILIATE, Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, Certified Public Accountants – Litigation and Forensic Accountants. With offices in Mount Laurel, NJ and Morrisville, PA, tips like the above can also be accessed by going to the firm’s website at www.aboandcompany.com

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