New Tax Law (TCJA) Restricts Like-Kind Exchange Rules for Non-Real Estate Property (Ouch!)
In a like-kind exchange, a taxpayer generally does not recognize a taxable gain or loss on an exchange of like-kind properties provided both the relinquished property and the replacement property are held for productive use in a business or for investment purposes, and no cash(boot) is received in the exchange. For those exchanges completed after Dec. 31, 2017, the TCJA limits tax-free exchanges to exchanges of real property that is not held primarily for sale. Therefore, as previously allowed, exchanges of personal property and intangible property can no longer qualify as tax-free like-kind exchanges.
On the surface, you may think losing like-kind exchanges for personal and intangible property is not a big deal since we can instead use IRC Sections 168 and/or 179 to write-off the new or used equipment placed in service. This reasoning may be valid. BUT, what about those situations where some equipment or machinery is sold without buying a replacement? Under the new tax law, this scenario will cost you tax dollars since you most likely will have a gain on the sale. This is especially true if Sections 168 and/or 179 had been used on the asset sold. In fact, the entire gain may all be taxable in the year of sale since your tax basis is zero.
Make your CPA aware of any significant asset sales during the year, especially the sale of any equipment or machinery for which a replacement won’t be purchased in the same tax year (of an equal or greater value). Otherwise, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
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