Date: January 15, 2020
By: Mike McGinnis

Top 10 Red Flags For Farmers Using 1031 Exchange

This investment vehicle can help farmers build wealth.

DES MOINES, Iowa — More and more farmers and landowners want to know how to use the Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 (known as section 1031 exchange) to defer taxes and build wealth on the purchase of replacement property.

While not widely understood, the details of transacting a 1031 exchange can be sifted through by use of a qualified intermediary.

This was a topic covered in a presentation to farmers, landowners, and brokers at this week’s Land Investment Expo.

David Brown, president of IPE 1031, a nationwide company that offers intermediary services for various types of exchanges, was unable to get through the first five slides of a 50-slide presentation before being inundated with multiple questions on carrying out 1031 exchanges.

A 1031 exchange is defined as a like-kind exchange of real property that allows a person who has sold that asset to invest the returns into a new property to avoid capital gains taxes.

The U.S. government wants to incentivize people to continue to keep their investments in the economy, Brown says.

In simple terms, it’s a tax deferral tool, allowing people to invest in more appropriate assets that suit their particular situation.

Cash flow and Wealth Benefits

The section 1031 exchange law, enacted in 1921, has been helping farmers and landowners build wealth and keep cash flow in their operation for decades.

“Folks who were trading a horse for a horse didn’t have to pay the tax on that transition,” says David Brown, president IPE 1031.

“Those are time value dollars to build my investment holdings vs. ending up investing $100,000 less than I thought I could.”

1031 Exchange Misunderstandings

The biggest misnomer about 1031 exchanges is the idea that folks are coming out of transitional agricultural properties around metropolitan areas and trading into outlining assets in more rural communities.

“I’m not saying those transactions don’t happen. But they are a fraction of a percentage of 1031 exchange transactions that we handle,” Brown says.

For instance, farmers are not buying huge tracts of land in rural areas with money that they got from selling off land to developers near a big city.

“In fact, there are several studies that show 1031 exchanges don’t drive farmland values higher. Instead, this type of investment tool keeps farmland values in-check or reduces them because they contribute to an increase in supply of property because people are not afraid to sell their land. And without section 1031, you wouldn’t have the supply of land, pushing prices up due to low available inventory,” Brown says.

Top 10 Exchange Red Flags

While 1031 exchanges can be beneficial to farmers selling and replacing property assets, understanding the legal aspects of them can be very confusing. At this week’s Land Investment Expo, Brown shared these top 10 exchange red flags with a room full of farmers, landowners, and brokers.

  1. The disqualified qualified intermediary:
    Taxpayers seeking the services of a qualified intermediary company, (such as Brown’s company IPE 1031), should inquire into the company’s ownership. A disqualified intermediary can