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Can I Defer Capital Gains Without a 1031 Exchange?

Are you looking for a way to defer capital gains taxes? A 1031 exchange may be an option – but there may be other options that may be preferable. In this blog post, we will summarize the common ways that real estate investors can defer capital gains taxes after the sale of an appreciated investment property.

Overview of the 1031 Exchange

First introduced in 1921, the 1031 exchange is a tax deferral technique used in the United States to postpone the payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of real estate. It allows an investor to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of one property into another, similar property, and defer paying capital gains taxes on the entire amount until the new property is sold. 

The basic principle of a 1031 exchange is that an investor exchanges one investment property for another investment property of equal or greater value while deferring taxes on any taxable gain into the new property. This allows investors to increase their wealth without paying capital gains taxes. 

Investors can take advantage of a 1031 exchange tax deferral each time they sell an investment property.  When an investor passes, heirs or a surviving spouse can inherit the investment property at a current market value (also known as “step-up in basis”) and accumulated capital gains and depreciation related tax liabilities are reset to zero. Successor owners will be responsible for only future tax liabilities should they continue to own the property. 

The 1031 Exchange is the most common type of tax deferral strategy used by individual real estate investors. 

Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) Investments

As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a new form of tax deferral was created called the Qualified Opportunity Zone. Gains from the sale of any appreciated assets including not only real estate, but equities, artwork, collectibles, etc. can be invested in Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund. The QOZ Fund must invest in designated projects in areas throughout the US that have been deemed to in need of investment to spur economic development. QOZ Funds typically invest in ground-up development projects within the designated areas. 

QOZ investments provide potential tax benefits in three areas.

  1. Tax deferral through 2026 – If within a 180-day period beginning on the date of the sale of the asset, and the investor invests in QOZ Fund, the taxable gain is deferred until December 21, 2026.
  2. Reduction in taxes owed – Tax obligations from the sale of the asset are reduced by 10%.
  3. No tax on appreciation of developed assets – provided that the investor holds the QOZ Fund investment for a minimum of 10 years, there will potentially be no tax obligations on the appreciated value of the developed assets. 

While options to defer taxes via the QOZ tax deferral program are currently scheduled to expire in 2026, members of Congress have initiated efforts to extend the program.1

Installment Sales

An installment sale is a type of sale where a buyer takes possession of the property and agrees to pay the seller over time, often making interest only payments for some period followed by a balloon payment to the seller which includes any remaining owed principal. IRS tax code M453 states that no capital gains taxes are owed by the seller in an installment sale until such time that they begin collecting principal funds from their sold property. While sellers would be obligated to pay income tax on any interest income that they receive in an installment sale, they could defer the payment of capital gains taxes into the future until they receive the principal funds from their sale.

The popularity of installment sale transactions increases as interest rates rise. Sellers may be attracted to the notion of receiving monthly interest income at higher rates than may be realized via other investments while deferring payment of capital gains taxes until principal is repaid. 

Deferred Sales Trust or/ Monetized Installment Sale 

In a Deferred Sales Trust or Monetized Installment Sale, an intermediary is involved who accepts purchase proceeds from a buyer and then provides funds to seller in either the form of a loan or through a stream of payments from investments that are made by the intermediary. These quasi-installment sales are structured to yield a more immediate use of sale proceeds to the seller than what some tax authorities and agencies believe is intended by current tax laws.2 3


While the 1031 exchange remains the “gold standard” of real estate tax deferral strategies, there are other options for investors seeking to defer taxes on the gains of their appreciated assets. For more information on real estate tax deferral strategies and to obtain referrals to experienced real estate tax advisors, please contact us at 866 398-1031 or visit our website at 

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Paul Getty

Paul Getty is a licensed real estate broker in the state of California and Texas and has been directly involved in commercial transactions totaling over $3 billion on assets throughout the United States. His experience spans all major asset classes including retail, office, multifamily, and student, and senior housing. Paul’s transaction experience includes buy and sell side representation, sourcing and structuring of debt and equity, workouts, and asset and property management. He has worked closely with nationally prominent real estate brokerage and investment organizations including Marcus Millichap, CB Richard Ellis, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley among others on the firm’s numerous transactions. Paul also maintains a broad network of active buyers and sellers of commercial real estate including lenders, institutions, family office managers, and high net worth individuals. Prior to founding First Guardian Group/FGG1031, Paul was a founder and CEO of Venture Navigation, a boutique investment banking firm specializing in structuring equity investments made by institutions and high net worth individuals. He possesses over 35 years of comprehensive worldwide business management experience in environments ranging from early phase start-ups to multi-billion-dollar corporations. His track record includes participation in IPOs and successful M&A activity that has resulted in investor returns of over $700M. Paul holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan, graduating with honors, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Wayne State University. Paul Getty holds Series 22, 62, and 63 securities licenses and is a registered financial representative with LightPath Capital Inc, member FINRA /SIPC. Paul is a noted speaker, author, and actively lectures on investments, sales, and management related topics. He is author of The 12 Magic Slides, Regulation A+: How the JOBS Act Creates Opportunities for Entrepreneurs and Investors, and Tax Deferral Strategies Utilizing the Delaware Statutory Trust (DST), available on Amazon and other retail outlets.

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