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Can a Real Estate Investment Trust ("REIT") benefit from a Cost Segregation Engagement?

Cost Segregation Analysis Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT)
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Peter J. Scalise
Yes, a Real Estate Investment Trust (hereinafter "REIT") can potentially benefit from a cost segregation engagement. I would wholeheartedly recommend scoping the cost segregation opportunities on a property by property basis to assess the potential tax savings.

As a reminder, pursuant to I.R.C. § 856 and the corresponding treasury regulations, REITs (e.g., regardless of whether structured as a Traditional REIT; UP-REIT; or DOWN-REIT) are tax-free entities at the federal level if they adhere to and satisfy the yearly income and asset tests amongst other requirements. However, REITs are taxable at the multi-state level. When utilizing cost segregation analysis coupled with state and local property tax abatement planning, a paradigm shift occurs from a tax planning strategy that merely encompasses a temporary / timing based difference (i.e., accelerating depreciation deductions through cost segregation analysis) to a tax planning strategy that now encompasses a permanent based difference (i.e., state and local property tax abatements).

As an overview, a Cost Segregation Analysis will methodically review property, plant and equipment and properly reclassify real property (e.g., property that is generally depreciated for tax return purposes over a period of either 27.5 or 39 years) into personal property (e.g., property that is generally depreciated for tax return purposes over a period of either 3, 5, 7 or 15 years) by reviewing all of the structural components within the building structure (e.g., exterior walls, roof, windows, doors, etc.) and the building systems (e.g., lighting, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, escalators, elevators, fire-protection and alarm systems, security systems, gas distribution systems, etc.). By accelerating the accumulated depreciation deductions the overall cost basis of the property will be reduced which then potentially enables a state and local property tax abatement resulting in the reduction of your blended multi-state tax rates for both tax accrual and tax return purposes.

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