Cost Segregation is a tool given by the tax code to real estate investors that improves cash flow instantly.
Jodi Nielsen, National Senior Account Manager & David Deshotels, Executive Vice President of Cost Segregation Services Inc provide real estate investors with the how and why they can utilize the tax code to lower their taxes, save money, improve cash flow.
Cost Segregation Study
Cost Segregation Study takes an engineering approach to determine what the components of the building are. Then, it breaks the whole building into its components parts. These component parts are then categorized as personal property, and assigned a life expectancy of 5, 7 or 15 years.
Depreciation is the accounting of a portion of the whole that has been used up, and is loss. This loss reduces its value and is accounted for annually when filing income taxes. It is an expense against income. Subtracting this depreciation expense from income reduces your taxable income.
Straight line vs Accelerated
Start with a value of $100,000
Pre Tax income of $20,000
27.5 years: $100,000 / 27.5 = $3,636 annual depreciation expense.
Taxable income: $20,000
Depreciation: – $3,636
Taxable Income: $16,364
5 years: $100,000 / 5 = $20,000 annual depreciation expense.
Taxable income: $20,000
Taxable Income: $ 0
This shorter timeline accelerates the depreciation and increases the depreciation expense, which lowers the Taxable Income and increases cash flow.
The net result can be tax free income for the real estate investor. This is especially true in the early years of ownership. This is one of the primary incentives for investors to hold real estate.
Bonus Depreciation used to be available only for buyer or builder of a new property. The new tax laws allow you an additional 100% depreciate any eligible property if it is new to you. This adds to the value of a cost segregation study.
Partial Asset Disposition
Partial asset disposition allows you to take into account and write off the loss of the unused property when you replace elements of your building. For instance, if you buy a building and have to replace the carpet. If you expense the cost of the new carpet, you will get to record the expense of the new item, but will not get the benefit of the unused property that you tossed in the dumpster.
Additionally, if you have not done a Cost Segregation study, you will miss out on the additional depreciation allowed in the 2017 tax act. Bonus Depreciation provides an additional amount of depreciation for qualifying property in year one of purchase.
Tax Payor Status
Your tax payor status will determine how much depreciation you are allowed to use.
Real Estate Professional
For those investors who are full time investors and do not have a W2 job, they can utilize the depreciation against 100% of their gross income.
Passive Real Estate Investor
If you are a passive investor, and have a W2 job, you are allowed to deduct up to the amount of passive income received. If you have more deductions than you can take, the deductions will be carried forward for future use. This can be used to offset the taxable gain when you sell the property.
Misconceptions of Cost Segregation
There are some common misconceptions around cost segregation. Following are a few:
Misconception: I can’t do a cost segregation study on my old building.
FACTS: This is not true. As long as the building is new to you, you are eligible to utilize cost segregation.
Misconception: My building is not worth enough to utilize cost segregation.
FACTS: As long as your building is worth $150,000, cost segregation may be of benefit to you.
When Not to Use a Cost Segregation Study
A cost segregation study will not work for you if you are a non profit that does not pay taxes. Additionally, if you are looking to flip a property in less than 3 years, it may not be worth doing a study.
The recapture rate of Personal Property can be negated if planned for properly. If you exchange into a new building, the Personal property recaptured, will be calculated at a higher rate than the permanent structure. However, if you do a cost segregation study on the new property, you will have a new schedule of depreciation plus the bonus depreciation in year one.
Each week I ask my guest, “What is the Biggest Risk Real Estate Investors face?”
Per Jodi: The biggest risk is you’re sitting basically if you own a building you definitely owe it to yourself op to look at. Because you’re sitting on cash that you don’t have to sell another widget. You don’t have to make another widget. You don’t have to find another contract. It’s your money that you’re just basically sitting on by owning a building that you could use now. And so why not at least look at the look at the numbers to see if it makes sense for you at this time instead of letting more time go by just straight lining. And then also with the partial asset disposition I would say it’s very important to take advantage of it.
Per David: We’ve had plenty of companies that have called us back years after having done their study. And they suffered catastrophic loss be it a tornado or fire or whatever it is and they won’t say, do you guys still have those 500 pictures of my building that you took when you did the study? It’s like sure we’ve got those and it’s so we have they’re building just completely documented from top to bottom one in the other. We’ll come out and take hundreds and hundreds of pictures depending on the size of the property to completely document that. So if there is catastrophic loss it’s it’s a documentation to say hey here’s what the building was. Here’s all the furniture fixtures and so forth. And it’s been very helpful to people in times of crisis.
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