Roundtable Weekly
IRS Guidance Ensures Real Estate Businesses Benefit from Phase Three Tax Relief
April 11, 2020

IRS Building

This week, the IRS issued two revenue procedures that will help real estate businesses maximize the amount of tax relief they receive under the “Phase 3” CARES Act. The IRS actions are consistent with recent Real Estate Roundtable recommendations.

Partnership Amended Returns

  • The CARES Act included several provisions designed to generate deductions in prior years that can be “monetized” today, through the filing of amended tax returns, to help businesses stay afloat during the current economic turmoil.  As the Senate Finance Committee summary noted, “[t]hese changes will allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior year returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.”  

  • In the understandable rush to enact the CARES Act, Congress did not have an opportunity to consider fully how provisions in the legislation would interact with various aspects of existing tax law and regulations.  In particular, under the partnership audit regime enacted in 2015, partnerships are no longer permitted to file amended tax returns.

  • In a letter on April 4, Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer urged the Treasury Department and IRS to use its regulatory authority to allow partnership to file superseding tax returns that could replace returns filed in 2018 and 2019. 

  • IRS Rev. Proc. 2020-23, released on Wednesday, allows partnerships to file amended returns for those years, effectively providing the relief The Roundtable requested.  

Business Interest Limitation

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a new limitation on the deductibility of business interest, but allows real estate businesses to elect out, which most did in 2018.  The election is irrevocable, and the price of the election is longer cost recovery periods for real property and improvements.  The CARES Act liberalized the limitation on the deductibility of business interest for tax years 2019 and 2020.  However, the law did not allow real estate businesses to go back and change their election out of the regime.

  • In its April 4 letter, The Roundtable asked the IRS to allow real estate businesses to revoke elections made in 2018 and 2019.  This afternoon, the IRS issued the requested relief in Rev. Proc. 2020-22.

Like-Kind Exchanges

  • In addition to the actions related to the CARES Act, the IRS has provided relief to taxpayers having difficulty completing like-kind exchanges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In late March,  The Roundtable and 21 other national real estate organizations requested relief from the strict statutory deadlines that apply for identifying replacement property and closing on like-kind exchange transactions.  Under IRS Notice 2020-23, like-kind exchange deadlines that would otherwise fall between April 1 and July 14 are extended to July 15.

Opportunity Zones

  • Relief from the various deadlines and compliance testing dates for Opportunity Zones during the pandemic is a Roundtable priority.  IRS Notice 2020-23 provides that if a taxpayer’s 180-day period to invest gain in an opportunity fund would have expired between April 1 and July 14, 2020, the taxpayer now has until July 15, 2020 to make the investment.   

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