1031 Exchange Rules
The 45-Day Rule for Identification. The first timing restriction for a delayed Section 1031 exchange is for the taxpayer to either close on Replacement Property or to identify the potential Replacement Property within 45 days from the date of transfer of the exchanged property. The 45-Day Rule is satisfied if replacement property is received before 45 days has expired. Otherwise, the identification must be by written document (the identification notice) signed by the taxpayer and hand-delivered, mailed, faxed, or otherwise sent to the Intermediary. The identification notice must contain an unambiguous description of the replacement property. This includes, in the case of real property, the legal description, street address or a distinguishable name.
After 45 days, limitations are imposed on the number of potential Replacement Properties, which can be received as Replacement Properties. More than one potential replacement property can be identified under one of the following three conditions:
The Three-Property Rule - Any three properties regardless of their market values.
The 200% Rule - Any number of properties as long as the aggregate fair market value of the replacement properties does not exceed 200% of the aggregate FMV of all of the exchanged properties as of the initial transfer date.
The 95% Rule - Any number of replacement properties if the fair market value of the properties actually received by the end of the exchange period is at least 95% of the aggregate FMV of all the potential replacement properties identified.
Although the Regulations only require written notification within 45 days, it is recommended practice for a solid contract to be in place by the end of the 45-day period. Otherwise, a taxpayer may find himself unable to close on any of the properties which are identified under the 45-day letter. After 45 days have expired, it is not possible to close on any other property, which was not identified in the 45-day letter. Failure to submit the 45-Day Letter causes the Exchange Agreement to terminate and the Intermediary will disburse all unused funds in his possession to the taxpayer.
The 180-Day Rule for Receipt of Replacement Property. The replacement property must be received and Exchange completed no later than the earlier of 180 days after the transfer of the exchanged property or the due date (with extensions) of the income tax return for the tax year in which the exchanged property was transferred. The replacement property received must be substantially the same as the property, which was identified under the 45-day rule described above. There is no provision for extension of the 180 days for any circumstance or hardship.
As noted above, the 180-Day Rule is shortened to the due date of a tax return if the tax return is not put on extension. For instance, if an Exchange commences late in the tax year, the 180 days can be later than the April 15 filing date of the return. If the Exchange is not complete by the time for filing the return, the return must be put on extension. Failure to put the return on extension can cause the replacement period for the Exchange to end on the due date of the return. This can be a trap for the unwary.
Simultaneous two-party trades ("swaps") and complicated three-party exchanges (requiring either buyer or seller to act as the "accommodating party") are rare due to the timing difficulty, liability risks and potential complications. Most investors today use a Qualified Intermediary to safely facilitate a simultaneous exchange.