Tax Benefits for the Passive Investor

Tax Benefits for the Passive Investor

In the world of real estate investing, taxes can actually work in your favor. Unlike stocks and mutual funds, real estate investments often result in a lower tax bill while yielding significant returns. For many people tax benefits are one of the reasons they choose to invest in multifamily syndication, and with Viking Capital.

The disparity in tax treatment between real estate gains and stock market gains is substantial and noteworthy, especially for those who prefer passive investments in real estate syndications. In this article, we’ll explore the nuances of this tax treatment and its benefits to passive investors.

7 Ways Real Estate Investing Benefits Taxes

Here are seven key insights every passive investor in a real estate syndication should consider regarding taxes:

  1. The tax code is favorable towards real estate investors.
  2. Passive investors receive the same tax benefits as active investors.
  3. Depreciation is a powerful tool in real estate investing.
  4. Cost segregation is a more powerful form of depreciation.
  5. Investors should plan for capital gains and depreciation recapture taxes.
  6. 1031 exchanges are a valuable tax-deferral strategy.
  7. Some investors prioritize real estate solely for its tax benefits.

Let’s dive into why Viking Capital investments are a great option to defer taxes.

The Tax Code is Favorable for Real Estate

Real estate investing creates more millionaires than any other investment avenue. The IRS acknowledges the significance of real estate investing in providing good quality housing to the populace. As a result, these benefits incentivize investors to invest in property, maintain their units, and improve them over time.

Tax Benefits for Passive Investors

The tax implications of being a passive investor in a real estate syndication are significant. Unlike in the case of active investors who engage in property management, passive investors receive the full range of tax benefits. As a passive investor, you invest in a pass-through entity as an LLC or LP. Therefore, any tax benefits resulting from the property ownership flow directly to you as the investor. Conversely, investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs) does not provide the same tax benefits.

Common tax benefits of investing in real estate include the ability to depreciate the property value over time. Depreciation, in particular, is a powerful tool for reducing tax liability.


Depreciation is a tax strategy that allows you to write off the value of an asset over time, based on the useful life of the asset. The IRS acknowledges that over time, every property will succumb to natural wear and tear and become uninhabitable. For residential real estate, the IRS allows you to write off the value of the property over 27.5 years. However, only the property itself is eligible for depreciation benefits, not the land.

For instance, if you purchase a property for $1,000,000, with the building worth $825,000, you can write off an equal amount of that $825,000 every year for 27.5 years using straight-line depreciation. That means each year, you can write off $30,000 due to depreciation.

Depreciation reduces your table income and allows you to keep the profits tax-deferred until the disposition of the property.  It’s important to note that this depends on your individual tax situation, and you should consult your CPA. Bonus depreciation is available for properties acquired after September 27, 2017, which can further enhance the tax benefits in the first year.

Cost Segregation and How to Use It

In our previous example, we discussed straight-line depreciation, which deducts an equal portion of an asset’s value every year for 27.5 years. By utilizing straight-line depreciation in a traditional investment timeline of a five-year hold, we would be leaving the remaining 22.5 years on the table. This is where cost segregation can be advantageous.

Cost segregation acknowledges that not every component of a property has the same lifespan. For instance, the printer in the back office has a shorter lifespan than the roof does. During a cost segregation study, an engineer itemizes the makeup of a property, including outlets, wiring, windows, carpeting, and fixtures.

Let me illustrate this with an example. If a real estate sponsor buys an apartment building in December, the investors only hold the asset for one month of that calendar year. Through utilizing cost segregation, the depreciation schedule was accelerated for many items that were part of the property giving you Bonus Depreciation also known as accelerated depreciation.

If this investment was $100,000 in that real estate syndication, the K-1 would show a paper loss of $50,000. That’s a 50% loss of the initial investment even though the property was only owned for one month of that tax year. Furthermore, if the taxpayer qualifies as a real estate professional, this paper loss can be applied to other taxes as well.

How to Plan for Tax Liability and Recapture

Real estate investing, while providing many benefits, is not exempt from taxation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires taxes on capital gains when a real estate asset is sold, and sometimes on depreciation recapture, depending on the sale price.

In a real estate syndication, capital gains taxes and depreciation recapture are typically incurred upon the sale of the property. The amount of tax owed varies based on the length of the hold time and the individual’s tax bracket.

Under the 2018 tax law, the capital gains tax brackets and percentages are as follows: 0% for those earning between $0 to $77,220, 15% for those earning between $77,221 to $479,000, and 20% for those earning more than $479,000. We recommend consulting a certified public accountant (CPA) for more detailed and up-to-date information on tax laws.

1031 Exchange Tax Benefits

As mentioned earlier, capital gains taxes (and sometimes depreciation recapture) are due upon disposition of the property. Nevertheless, a 1031 exchange offers a way around this tax obligation. This type of exchange enables an investor to sell an investment property and, within a stipulated timeframe, use the proceeds to acquire another similar investment property.

By doing so, the investor can defer paying taxes on the profits made from this sale by rolling them over into the new investment. However, not all real estate syndications offer 1031 exchanges, and the majority of investors in syndication must agree to it for it to be feasible.

It’s worth noting that individual investors cannot initiate a 1031 exchange on their shares in a real estate syndication. Instead, the sponsors must decide to perform a 1031 exchange on the entire property. Each sponsor has a unique approach to the 1031 exchange, and interested investors should directly inquire with the sponsor.

Tax Benefits Through Passive Investing

Real estate investment offers significant tax benefits that can reduce overall tax bills for investors. Wealthy individuals, in particular, can leverage these write-offs and apply them to other taxes they owe. This is a perfectly legal tax strategy and a powerful wealth-building tool. However, you do not need to be wealthy to take advantage of the tax benefits of passive investing. The tax code makes these benefits available to every real estate investor and at Viking Capital, we will help you strategically implement investments that will make the most sense in the short, and long-term financial plan.

View our newest investment opportunity: Stewart’s Mill.


Please note that I am not a licensed tax professional, and I have no intention of becoming one. The information and opinions presented in this article are based solely on my personal experience and research. It is highly recommended that you consult with a certified public accountant (CPA) for a more thorough and accurate analysis of your individual circumstances.