Roundtable Welcomes New Study Quantifying Vast Economic Benefits of “Like-Kind” Property Exchanges

  • July 10, 2015

(WASHINGTON) The Real Estate Roundtable welcomes today’s release of an economic study that quantifies the vast economic benefits of “like-kind” property exchanges (authorized under Section 1031 of the U.S. tax code), while illustrating the unintended negative economic impacts of proposals to scale back or repeal this nearly 100-year-old tax provision.

Drs. David Ling (University of Florida) and Milena Petrova (Syracuse University), who co-authored the study —“The Economic Impact of Repealing or Limiting Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges in Real Estate” — based their findings on more than 1.6 million real estate transactions spanning 18 years (1997-2014) and totaling $4.8 trillion (unadjusted for inflation).

“The new Ling-Petrova study demonstrates how critical like-kind exchanges are to the health and vibrancy of real estate activity in the United States,” said Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer. As he explained, “Acquiring and improving commercial real estate requires large amounts of capital, and section 1031 helps real estate businesses grow and expand organically — with less debt. In short, like-kind exchanges allow property owners to put more of their earnings back into the private sector — hiring workers, upgrading and improving properties, and generating much-needed economic activity.”

Like-kind exchange rules allow taxpayers to defer tax when they exchange one property held for investment or business use for other property of a “like kind.” They also contribute to a more dynamic real estate sector by eliminating potential “lock-in” effects (particularly in the case of less-productive assets).

Such exchanges, thus, foster increased investment and reinvestment activity; allow real estate owners to better allocate resources; and decrease debt levels in commercial and multifamily real estate transactions. Additionally, “1031 exchanges” help to safeguard property values — which underlie local government budgets across the country — and help to protect tenants by stabilizing rents.

In a letter to congressional tax-writers in March, The Roundtable and coalition partners asserted, “There is strong economic rationale for the like-kind exchange provision’s nearly 100-year existence in the Code. Limitation or repeal of section 1031 would deter and, in many cases, prohibit continued and new real estate and capital investment.”

As the coalition explained, like-kind exchanges:
  • are integral to the efficient operation and ongoing vitality of thousands of American businesses, which in turn strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs.
  • facilitate taxpayers’ ability to exchange a property for more-productive property; to diversify or consolidate holdings; and to transition to meet changing business needs.
  • are used by companies large and small in a wide range of industries, using different kinds of business structures.

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