What is a 1033 Exchange?

1033 exchanges

There are two cousins in the Internal Revenue Code. There’s Section 1031 for voluntary sales, and section 1033 for involuntary sales (i.e. condemnations, requisitions, seizure or losses that may occur through theft, destruction or an act of god).

1033 Involuntary Sales

1033 is the provision for the involuntary sale or loss and it’s actually more favorable to the taxpayer than 1031. In 1033 you don’t need to hire a qualified intermediary. You can hold onto your own proceeds. And you’re not limited to 180 days to complete your exchange – you have 2 years (in certain circumstances that can even be extended to a 3 year period).

Like-Kind & 1033

The like-kind requirement in 1031 is a little more flexible and loose than that for 1033. Generally under 1033 the replacement property must be “similar or related in service or use,” which is a more stringent standard than under 1031. There’s a case where under section 1033 a taxpayer disposed of a bowling alley and replaced it with a billiards parlor.* The IRS said that was not like-kind enough and the exchange failed. So 1033 is perhaps more complex when it comes to the like-kind standard.

Try 1033 First

I would always try to exhaust the 1033 option first because of the longer time frame and the fact that you don’t need a QI. You do however need to file for the election on your tax return to take advantage of the 1033.

Here’s the deal though – 1033 exchanges are rare occurrences. You have to be subject to a threat of condemnation or have suffered an involuntary loss. And many municipalities are gun-shy of litigation and would rather work out a voluntary sale, rather than bring out the big guns and take a condemnation action. I would say that 99% of exchanges are 1031s because voluntary sales are much more frequent than involuntary sales.

  • 1031 Hotline: If you have questions about 1033 exchanges, feel free to call me at 612-643-1031.

Defer the tax. Maximize your gain.


© 2016 Copyright Jeffrey R. Peterson All Rights Reserved

*In Rev. Rul. 76-319, 1976-2 C.B. 242, the owner of a recreational bowling center that was destroyed by fire, attempted to replace the property with a recreational billiard center. It was determined that bowling alleys and bowling equipment were insufficiently similar to billiard tables and billiard equipment for the billiard center to qualify as property similar or related in use to the converted bowling center. Similarly in Rev. Rul. 76-390, 1976-2 C.B. 243, it was determined that the physical characteristics and end uses of a motel were insufficiently similar to those of a mobile home park for the motel to qualify as property similar or related in service or use.