Part 2 of Tax Changes for Real Estate Investors with Amanda Han and Matt MacFarland

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Having helped thousands of investors across the US to save on taxes, Matt MacFarland and Amanda Han are founders at Keystone CPA, Inc. As both tax strategists and real estate investors, Amanda and Matt combine their passion for real estate investing with their expertise and knowledge in tax strategies. Their goal is to help investors with strategies designed to supercharge their wealth-building using entity structuring, self-directed investing, and income offset opportunities to keep more of what they make.

Amanda and Matt’s highly rated book Tax Strategies for the Savvy Real Estate Investor is amongst Amazon’s top seller list.

They are also frequent contributors, speakers, and educators to some of the nation’s top investment and self-directed IRA companies.  Their cutting-edge tax strategies have been featured in prominent publications including Money Magazine,, and Matt and Amanda were speakers at “Talks at Google” that features influential thinkers and creators. They have also appeared in CNBC’s Smart Money Talk Radio as well as BiggerPockets podcasts.

Matt and Amanda specialize in bringing top-notch tax-saving strategies that are traditionally only available to high net-worth clients to everyday investors nationwide. They both have experience working for the “Big 4” CPA firms specializing in the real estate and high net-worth individual specialty groups. Amanda is a graduate of UNLV and Matt is a graduate of UCLA with a Master’s Degree from USC. Both of them are certified by the CA State Board of Accountancy and are members of the prestigious American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).


Episode Highlights:

  • 1031 Exchanges
  • Tax Ramification
  • Estate Taxes
  • Residency Audits

Episode Notes:


Narrator This is The Norris Group’s real estate investor radio show the award-winning show dedicated to thought leaders shaping the real estate industry and local experts revealing their insider tips to succeed in an ever-changing real estate market hosted by author, investor, and hard money lender, Bruce Norris.

Bruce Norris  As both tax strategists and real estate investors, Matt and Amanda combined their passion of real estate investing with their expertise in tax strategies. Their goal is to help investors with strategies designed to supercharge their wealth building, using entity structuring, self-directed investing, and income offset opportunity to keep more of what they make. I think what’s interesting about all these contemplations is sometimes rules are dreamed up by people that have no idea of the of the domino effect that it creates. And so, you can imagine saying, okay, we’re gonna, we’re gonna tax your stockings, okay, well, you’re gonna crash the stock market by 50%, it probably, you know, in a very short period of time, and you don’t have revenue, but you’ve totally wrecked the finances of a lot of people. 1031 exchange, you’re not going to allow that, well, you’ve just ended the brokers career that has apartment listings, because it’s just not gonna happen.

Amanda Han  Yeah and I was on a webinar where some were, a 1031, exchange expert was talking about how people who, you know, buy real estate are the ones that make significant improvements, you know, as a new owner. So, it’s really good for the tenants versus the people who, you know, hold the properties for many, many years are less likely to make major improvements. So, that’s, you know, just kind of from a tenant or market perspective, that’s another benefit of the 1031 exchange, you know, allows real estate to move hands.

Bruce Norris  Let’s talk about 1031 exchanges, I’m going to just kind of play with it at the transaction, and then have a couple of questions. Because we have, we do have a situation where some of this has come up. So, let’s say we have a $2 million dollar property. It’s an escrow with a million dollars of debt on the property. My, my timeframe for putting something together and actually closing it, there’s two pieces of it. One of them is go ahead.

Matt MacFarland  Yeah, I know, there’s so there’s, there’s basically two timeframes of the exchange, there’s the 45 day identification period where you’ve got identify the, you know, one or more properties that you’re going to eventually purchase as replacement property. Or, and then in addition to that, they give you 180 days from the date of sale to close on the replacement property or properties. That’s the general timeframes.

Bruce Norris  Right. And that, what, that 45 days, and you did say that is include, included in the 180? It’s not…

Matt MacFarland  Yeah, so, it’s, they’re both measured from the date of sale, they’re not tacked on to the 45.

Bruce Norris  If I, if I owe a million dollars on the property I sold, what’s the ramifications for not having a million dollars a debt on the property I buy?

Matt MacFarland  Well, it’s actually the way they look at that there’s, there’s two monetary requirements that you have when you’re doing an exchange. One is that your, we call the purchase price replacement target. So, in your example, if you’re selling for $2 million, your purchase price of the replacement properties got to be 2 million or more. Okay, and the other one is the the equity replacement targets. So, in your example, you’ve got a $2 million sale, then dollars debt, you’ve got a million dollars in net equity, you’ve got to put that $1 million in that equity into your replacement property. So, the actual, the actual amount of debt on the replacement property doesn’t really matter, you could actually have zero debt on the replacement property. It’s just that you could you know, you could put your million dollar, dollars of equity into that one and then bring other cash to the table. Or you could get, you could bring some cash and get a lower amount of debt. So, the debt actually doesn’t matter. It’s more of the equity that you gotta roll in.

Bruce Norris  Okay. Okay. So, let’s say you have, you’ve exchanged an apartment building with these numbers proximately. And you’ve 1031 exch- you’ve nominated new homes that are being built. And then the Coronavirus thing happens. And you have,you have things that were out of your control. So, you have supply shortages, which is, which is true. And you have even like health inspectors that are on the jobsite when they inspect things like septic tanks or you know sewer systems and all that. They literally been taken off the job and been told to go give shots. So, you have a big hole in the time gap. So, I guess my question is, you know, what’s the, what’s the IRS’ stance on something that’s completely out of your control in like an emergency situation. Like if you were shut down in California for instance, you’d have you’d have no way you could finish something.

Joey Romero  Is there any new talks of extensions. You know, like they had, you know, in the past?

Matt MacFarland  Yeah, they I know. Um, so, this is going back, I guess to last summer, there was, people that were having that 180 day deadline that was gonna fall between I think it was April, April 1 and July 15. It was extended to July 15. Now, obviously, we’re past that, I get that. But s,o that was one thing that they did do with the CARES Act to kind of extend the 180 day deadline for lack of a better term, along with a lot of other things, obviously. But yeah, I think in those situations where things are out of control, I think there is some I don’t know. Exactly on top my head, I’ve there’s probably some private letter rulings, you might be able to file. But I think there’s other things that I feel like there is some, you know, some you have some leeway, I guess for like, that would be a good question. I think for like an exchange intermediary.

Bruce Norris  Yeah. Okay.

Matt MacFarland  Because Yeah, those those construction exchanges are. Yeah, they’re obviously they’re own lone little beast, right? Because then you then you’re looking at, okay, when do you spend all your money? And how do they measure that? Right? And that’s kind of getting to your question is, like, I can’t even spend my money because even if I got the materials, no one’s here to install them, right? Sitting in the dirt, you know.

Bruce Norris  Yeah. What is what is the tax ramification for that? So, when, when the IRS says, Okay, well, you know, you got 75% of the way there, you basically, you know, spent 750 grant of your net.

Matt MacFarland  I mean, in a typical scenario, if someone’s doing a construction exchange, and they just don’t get to their, spend all their money by the deadlines. The way it’s taxed, it’s really on the shortfall. So, it’s not prorate. It’s not pro rata based on is it 75% complete and you got to pay tax on 25%. It’s really, you know, if you were supposed to spend $2 million, you only spend 100, a 1.8 million within the deadline, then you got to pay tax on that difference of 200 grand in that example. So, it kind of if you have 200, you have to know what your gain is obviously, on selling the first property, right. So, you’re still right, your basis, but then you figure out the shortfall in terms of dollars. That’s in a normal situation. Obviously, I you know, excluding COVID, but..

Bruce Norris  Okay. So, many topics. Okay, estate taxes, I discovered this very briefly, currently, how large of an estate can you pass on to your family without being taxable in? Does that change in 2025?

Matt MacFarland  Yeah, right now, the the estate tax exemption for individuals about 11, just under 11.6 million. So, you double that for a married couple, you know, 23.1,  23.2 million. So, essentially, a married couple could, if they happen to both pass at the same time, they could have an estate where under $23 million, not pay any esstate tax. Based on the current law, I think at the end of 2025, it’s going to revert back those exemption levels are going to revert back to 5 million if I remember correctly, essentially, meaning, you know, there’s some things to do between now. And then if people find themselves in that, that grab between five and 22, or whatever, you know.

Bruce Norris  If you pass the maximum allowed for any particular year or law, what is the, what is the estate tax? And is there a federal and a state estate tax?

Matt MacFarland  So, right now, the highest federal estate tax is at 40%. And the I don’t know, you know, I don’t know about others, that Cal-. State of California actually doesn’t have an estate tax.

Bruce Norris  What?

Matt MacFarland  No, they do. They do. They do tax. They do charge an income tax on an estate. So, you know, if someone passes away, they’re going to take a year and a half to kind of dissolve everything. The taxpaying entity, and the income tax paying entity, that point could be the estate and the estate would have to pay some income taxes depending on what it earns and things but, but yeah, that’s where things are currently standing.

Bruce Norris  Okay. We’re kind of running out of time. Do we got another five or 10 minutes? So, I want to cover moving out of California because you’re saying you have a fair amount of people that are asking you about it. So, I’ve heard the state of California is pretty vigilant on making sure you actually left. So, especially if you’re saying you live there half of the year plus a day, so…

Matt MacFarland  No, again, we’re just talking hypothetically here, right? We’re not talking about anybody we know.

Bruce Norris  I already live in Florida. I’m talking to you from Florida. Yeah, that’s why at the end, I say my first year as Florida resident words of advice. But I’m actually I’m actually here full time but I think a lot of investors I mean, I know some of them they’re gonna live half the time in California and half the time in another state that has no tax and they’re gonna probably be challenged on that. You know, if they don’t, if they do, if they don’t do certain things. Yeah. So, what what is your experience on on that? Well, you know, what do they need to prove and keep track of for them to be okay?

Amanda Han  I mean, California is, you know, extremely aggressive in residency audits because, you know, we joke in the eyes of FTB. No one ever leaves California in reality you’re there forever. And so, so, really, we’re talking, you know, really we’re talking about actually leaving, you know, I know that people who say, Oh, I’m gonna just buy a little condo in Nevada, but I’m really gonna be here, no one’s gonna know. I think you can have a really hard time arguing, you know, FTB has said they’re using technology to also track the whereabouts of people. So, it’s more than just saying, I’m not here, but they look at social media, they look at LinkedIn, you know, going to that extent, to really figure out where you are, where do you sit, you know, are you where you say you are? But you know, the obvious things that they do, obviously, is voter registration. DMV registration, where are you licensed professionally? Right? So, if you’re saying you live in Florida, do you now have a Florida realtors license? Right? If a realtor is your business.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Amanda Han  Uh, you’re doctors you know, where your, your primary physician should not be in California, where you’re getting your prescription medication? So, those are some of the basic things but yeah, they’re looking at bank statements are trying to figure out where are you spending your money? If you’re saying you’re in Nevada, or Florida, but there’s a lot of charges from your account from Home Depot in California, then you might have an issue in terms of why that’s occurring. So, they have a kind of a long laundry list of things that they look at. So, it’s really, you know, to really not be in California, for tax purposes, you really need to physically not be in California for the most part.

Bruce Norris  Okay, that makes perfect sense.

Joey Romero  Bruce, we get a little more time than you think.

Bruce Norris  Okay. When, when somebody thinks they’re being unfairly coerced into you’re still a California resident, and they believe they’re not? What what are their options? That like, hire an attorney, and challenge that tax system?

Matt MacFarland  Yeah, cuz I mean, I think you get to that point you’ve been ,you’ve been audited, audited, the stuff we’re hearing is that the funny thing, that’s not funny, obviously, but it’s, once you are selected for audit, kinda as Amanda was saying that whole that they’re looking into Facebook, and all these other things. They’ve already built the case. At that point, they’ve already got all the background information, probably, maybe more than you even know about yourself sometimes, you know, so, if it gets to that point, yeah, it’s it’s a, it’s time to kind of hire the tax attorney that can deal with appeals and, you know, fighting and fighting the state for you. Because…

Amanda Han  Yeah, I think the good news, at least in our experience, you know, we’ve never had to deal with a residency audits, I think, for, you know, for most of our clients, I mean, either they’re in California, or they really moved out, you know, they still have maybe investment properties in California, by they’re similar to your scenario, right? Where you are actually in Florida. I mean, you might come back here to speak or something like that, but there’s not really, you know, connection where, you actually…

Bruce Norris Maybe, maybe. No, I am gonna be back there. In about two or three weeks, actually. Yeah, I’ll wear I’m gonna wear a makeup and a beard, though, so…

Amanda Han  Well, you need to get one of those disposable phones, you know, the ones that criminals use.

Matt MacFarland  They’re called burner phones.

Bruce Norris  Oh, my gosh, I see. I didn’t know that. thank thank goodness, we have Joey here.

Matt MacFarland  The issue with it all right, is it you know, if somebody moves out of state and they still have California real estate, that’s clearly California source income, right. It’s the the stuff that the state is trying to go after is the, the in between transactions of you know, somebody, I don’t know, somebody like a singer, they exercise stock options, and they have a huge bump in compensation income, and they’re trying to make the argument that ‘Well, I was a resident of you know, Nevada during that period of time’. So, maybe that compensation income, that bump is not taxable in California.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Matt MacFarland  That’s a big, that’s a that’s a gray area, right? That’s what, that’s one of the things that California is gonna want to go after. It’s, it’s not as clear cut as the property’s clearly not in California or something like that, you know.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Amanda Han  And we and you know, because of COVID this is something that we’ve seen a lot where we have plans that are spending part of the year outside of California so they, one thing they look at is your time outside of California. Is that permanent? Or is that kind of short term?

Bruce Norris  Right.

Amanda Han  Meaning, okay, well, you know, I work for Google Google’s that I don’t have to be here until the you know, the next six months so I moved to Florida for six months but my home is still here. I’m coming back. Wink wink. So, California his position is still no you plan to come back. Your employment is still here. You’re only there for you know a long Airbnb stay If you will, that’s not really gonna work. It’s really just, you know, I am moving to Florida, again, it’s okay to be back here. Like if you’re here working or you know, some you’re doing teaching and things, that’s perfectly fine. It’s just you really need to establish your home as not no longer in California.

Bruce Norris  Okay. When I sell a property in California, I know when I file taxes, I have a, I have a form, right? I have to fill out on the rental property that’s chasing this property till the end of time, right. Basically, you made your money in California, but you exchange it, but you’re not, we’re not letting you go.

Matt MacFarland  Yeah.

Bruce Norris  The day you sell that property make a profit, we want our cut. Has that. Is that been challenged legally? Or is that just an accepted? That’s okay.

Matt MacFarland  It probably has I’m not aware of anything recently that people are trying to go into that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It’s, uhm…

Amanda Han  I’ve not heard that it’s been overturned, I guess, the best way so. So, we’re still filing those forms.

Matt MacFarland  Yeah.

Amanda Han  Until there’s guidan