Cost Segregation And Multifamily Property: Busting The Myths

In J.P. Morgan’s 2023 Commercial Real Estate Outlook, multifamily property is designated as the highest performing of all asset classes. A recent study commissioned by the National Multifamily Housing Council and National Apartment Association revealed that the U.S. needs to build 4.3 million new apartments by 2035. The demand for multifamily units clearly remains strong, reinforcing its reputation as a “safe” investment.

Investors may initially be drawn to this vertical for safety, scalability, and predictable income, but they often stay for the significant tax benefits. Multiple tax strategies are available, including accelerated depreciation, which can be used to offset a portion of that predictable rental income. Cost segregation is the vehicle for these tax savings.

So why doesn’t every multifamily property owner consider cost segregation? Some simply aren’t aware of it, while others have been misinformed. Let’s debunk some of the common myths holding multifamily investors back from potential opportunity.

1. You can only do cost segregation studies on commercial property, not residential rental real estate.

[ False ]
Cost segregation can be performed on residential real estate, from multifamily to single family rental properties, and in fact multifamily properties are considered great candidates for cost segregation.

2. There aren’t a lot of assets to reclassify in a multifamily property.

[ False ]
While the exact yield will vary based on projects details, layout, and location, between 20-35% of assets in multifamily properties may be accelerated.

Without cost segregation, residential real estate capital assets are assigned a 27.5-year Class Life.

With cost segregation, these are just some of the asset categories that can be moved into much shorter Class Lives:
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Free CPE Credit - 1 Hour

Focus On The Market: The Utility Cost of Segregation

Time: Oct 12, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register Here

This innovative case-based presentation reviews current tax strategies by taking attendees on a tour of different segments of the market. The session will begin with a brief overview of Cost Segregation, highlighting its utility throughout the real estate life cycle, and its crucial role as the vehicle for savings. The presenter will then pivot to discussing Bonus Depreciation, the Tangible Property Regulations, and Partial Asset Disposition using real examples from the manufacturing sector. Commercial rental property will then serve as the basis of a discussion of Qualified Improvement Property and the CARES Act. After additional residential real estate examples, the presenter will close with a discussion of Section 179 Expensing and how it can be employed most strategically. A survey of assets relevant to each market sector will be reviewed.
Learning Objectives:
* Understand how cost segregation is the vehicle by which tax savings opportunities are obtained
* Identify possible opportunities for cost segregation throughout the real estate life cycle
* Recognize assets eligible for cost segregation in a variety of market sectors
* Review the impact of the CARES Act on Qualified Improvement Property
* Become familiar with Section 179 Expensing
* Review the interplay between bonus, 179 and the TPRs
Course Outline:
Overview of Cost Segregation
Construction/Manufacturing Industry
Survey of Assets
Bonus, TPR, and PAD Case Studies
Commercial Rental Properties
Survey of Assets
QIP Case Studies
Residential Rental Properties
Survey of Assets
Section 179
A Comprehensive Plan Expensing Hierarchy
Recommended CPE: 1.0 Credit
Program Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Prerequisites: General Background in Accounting, Depreciation and Cost Segregation
Advanced Preparation: None
Field of Study: Taxes
Top 10 Things You Should Know About Cost Segregation

1. The concept is simple.  

Any given property contains a multitude of different assets, and each of them can be expected to have a different useful life.  For example, you can confidently expect marble flooring to last a lot longer than say, carpet tile.  The IRS provides guidelines that indicate how long different assets might last, using a system called MACRS (Modified Asset Cost Recovery System.)  The default MACRS class-life for an asset is 39 years.  If no cost segregation study is performed, all assets will depreciate over 39 years for commercial property or 27.5 years for residential.  Now that makes sense for marble flooring, but not for carpet tile.  Why should carpet tile just sit on the books, being depreciated over 39 long years?  

In a cost segregation study, engineers identify and quantify all building assets, and then assign each asset a cost.  These costs are then segregated into different categories according to their asset class lives.  Base building or “shell” assets remain 39-year assets, but many items can be moved into shorter-lived class lives:   

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Cost Segregation: Maximize Your Real Estate Tax Savings Now

There’s so much to consider when embarking on a new construction project. One factor that should always be taken into account is the opportunity for tax savings. There are many favorable tax strategies that can boost a project’s bottom line, and often the key to employing them most successfully is simply good planning. Cost segregation is one of these powerful strategies, and it is primarily used to accelerate depreciation deductions, though it has myriad applications. The benefits of cost segregation on acquisitions, new construction and renovation projects result in significant tax deferrals and improved cash flow.

Cost segregation is an IRS-recognized tax benefit strategy in which
specific components of a building or improvement project are identified and reallocated into modified cost recovery system (MACRS) class lives for federal tax purposes. Treating the assets as personal property or land improvements allows depreciation of these assets to be accelerated. Personal property depreciates over 5 or 7-years and land improvements depreciate over 15-years. This is significantly quicker than conventional 39-year depreciation period.

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Cost Segregation And 1031 Exchanges - Better Together

Commercial real estate owners, developers, and investors have many tools at their disposal with which to develop a strong tax strategy.  In addition to the stable of well-known strategies, the last few years have seen many expanded programs designed to incentivize real estate development. Two great examples are the 1031 exchange and accelerated depreciation, also known as cost segregation. Up until 2017, these two long-standing strategies have typically been mutually exclusive endeavors, as a byproduct of the 1031 process is a low step-up basis, which mitigates the effectiveness of cost segregation.   However, the Tax Cuts for Jobs Act (TCJA) changed aspects of both strategies in a way that facilitates their simultaneous use.

Under the TCJA, 1031 exchanges are required to exclude personal property from the exchange basis. This very exclusion may trigger a taxable event.

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