Four years ago, as Congress began debating what was to become the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the commercial real estate industry came together as never before to defend Section 1031, the like-kind exchange provision of the federal tax code, from legislative oblivion.
Unlike the perennial listing of like-kind exchanges on the “unwarranted loopholes” list by certain extremist think tanks, the threat to Section 1031 posed by House Republicans in the last tax reform bill was a clear and present danger. This was because their plan included the concept of immediate expensing of real estate. Policymakers driving that particular tax reform train, known as the Blueprint, saw no need to retain a deferred tax exchange mechanism in a world where the cost of any kind of real property investment could simply be written off in the year of purchase.
Sensing the immediate threat to one of real estate’s growth engines, trade groups and alarmed commercial practitioners joined forces and formed coalitions in the common quest to educate members of Congress and their staff about the economic growth and job creation benefits of Section 1031.
Over a multi-month coordinated operation, a veritable brigade of determined coalition members met with a high percentage of members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle. Armed with studies, surveys, and statistics, the coalition aimed to convince policymakers that retaining Section 1031 for real estate was essential in a bill designed to create jobs and invest in communities. These efforts paid off and the repeal bullet was dodged for real property exchanges.
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