Roundtable Weekly
Roundtable Video Alert Focuses on Tax Policy Pandemic Responses and Priorities; Industry Asks Treasury to Clarify Like-Kind Exchange Deadlines
April 25, 2020

The Real Estate Roundtable on Tuesday released a video alert focused on tax policy efforts aimed at mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact on commercial real estate.  

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, above, introduces the video with a report on the organization’s various policy efforts related to emergency financing, including the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Federal Reserve’s credit lending facilities, such as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) – before delving into tax policy with Roundtable Senior Vice President and Counsel Ryan McCormick.
  • McCormick describes recent actions the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have taken to provide relief and ease cash flow challenges for taxpayers, including real estate businesses and their tenants, and shares insight on remaining COVID-19-related tax priorities.
  • The discussion highlights new Treasury guidance permitting partnerships to file amended tax returns, thus allowing partnerships to benefit from retroactive provisions in the CARES Act, including the shorter depreciation period for improvements to nonresidential property.  Other issues include new guidance allowing real estate businesses to revoke prior elections under the business interest limitation.  The Roundtable had urged both actions to ensure that the tax relief in the CARES fully extends to commercial real estate and its tenants.  (Roundtable Weekly, April 10)
  • The video alert also addresses the administrative relief related to tax deadlines for like-kind exchange transactions and opportunity zone investments – along with added flexibility for mortgage servicers’ to modify loans in mortgage-backed securities (REMICs) without triggering tax liability. 
  • Remaining tax policy priorities for The Roundtable include relief that would allow private parties to restructure existing loans through debt workouts and restructurings without generating cancellation of indebtedness (COD) income – (see Roundtable COD letter, March 20) – as well as greater flexibility under the tax law for REITs to take an economic interest in a struggling commercial tenant to help avoid business closures and layoffs."  
  • This week’s video discussion is the third of several Roundtable video reports addressing the COVID-19 economic crisis.  Other resources, including related policy comment letters, are available on the organization’s website.  (The Roundtable’s COVID-19 Resource Center).   

Like-Kind Exchange Deadline Clarification

An industry coalition, including The Real Estate Roundtable, on April 20 wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seeking further clarification and relief on deadlines affecting real estate like-kind exchanges.  (LKE policy comment letter, April 20)

  • The letter requests that Treasury or the IRS clarify that recently issued IRS Notice 2020-23 did indeed initiate the 120-day extension of like-kind exchange deadlines that is part of the 2018 revenue procedure that applies to declared disasters.
  • At a minimum, Notice 2020-23 extended the 45-day deadline for identifying like-kind exchange replacement property and the 180-day deadline to close on a like-kind exchange transaction until July 15, 2020 (if the deadline otherwise would have occurred between April 1 and July 14).
  • However, relief associated with prior disasters provided 120-day deadline extensions that were retroactive to the date of the disaster declaration.  The IRS may have intended to grant the full 120-day extension, and some experts interpret the guidance as providing the longer benefit, retroactive to March 13, the date of the President’s COVID-19 disaster declaration.
  • As the letter notes, governmental restrictions and Stay at Home orders in place across the country, along with the fear of catching or spreading the life-threatening disease, threaten the ability of taxpayers to complete like-kind exchanges.
  • Identifying properties for trade purposes requires travel and a confidence in both the expected cash-flow stream and the value of potentially acquired property. Closing on an identified property requires these same conditions plus extensive due diligence by the buyer, lender and other third-party contractors, such as appraisers.  All of these necessary steps are thwarted by travel restrictions, the inability to access properties, and the closures of title/escrow companies and governmental recording offices.
  • The letter concludes, “This relief would give taxpayers who may have commenced, or who wish to commence an exchange, the necessary time to identify and / or close on a replacement property.  Taxpayers, many of whom are small to mid-sized businesses and middle class investors, should not have to be concerned about the possibility of having to pay significant capital gains taxes because like-kind exchange transactions cannot be completed due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Additional guidance from Treasury or the IRS on like-kind exchange transactions is expected in the coming days.

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