Last week we covered UBIT, today we’ll cover UDFI. This is unrelated debt financed income. OK, what the heck does that mean? Like everything else when it comes to the Tax code and the IRS, the definition is often complicated. Basically, it’s when you make money on leveraged debt in a retirement account. So, if you have money in a retirement account and you leverage the purchasing power because you don’t have enough money in your IRA to invest in an asset, you may get a loan so you can buy a bigger investment.
The IRS wants to tax from the profits on the debt portion. For example, let’s say you’re buying $100,000 property with your IRA and you only have $40,000 in it to make a down payment. You’ll get a loan for the other $60,000. Your IRA can qualify but it must be a nonrecourse loan and there are lenders available who understand and operate in compliance with IRA rules. You’re not personally guaranteeing the loan and most lenders have a maximum LTV, usually no more than 50%. Now your IRA goes and buys a property for $100K, puts down $40K, and gets a loan for $60K.
The IRS looks at that and they’re like, you know what, 60 percent of this deal is not retirement plan money, it’s just debt. The IRS wants to tax the profits from the debt. In our example, if you made $10,000 in rent, after all your expenses, you could expense everything, depreciation, all that, they’re going to say, OK, you have $10,000 of net income. We’ll let $4,000 of that go (i.e. the percent that represents the IRAs cash) go back to the IRA tax free. The other 60 percent was debt, not retirement plan money, which gets to go back to the retirement account also, but you’ve got to pay a toll. That toll is what is known as UDFI tax, which on rents is 37% (somewhere around $12k is where UBIT kicks in) so you’ll pay a few thousand in tax on that $10k.
Now when you sell an asset, you apply the same thing. How much debt was on the asset at the time of sale versus the acquisition price? Say we sold the property for $110k using our example, $60k was debt meaning 60% of that $10k gain is subject to UDFI. Ahh but wait there’s more! You made a $10k profit so there’s a 20% capital gains tax on $6k (remember 60% was a loan/debt) of that $10k profit.
Sounds exorbitant right? Remember, you had a $10k gain, you were able to acquire more and profit by understanding how to use leverage responsibly and execute on a profitable opportunity that was not available to you with only the $40k in your IRA. Your money went to work and put a profit in your pocket not a bad thing.
Understand when using your IRA to invest if you use leverage or get involved in a partnership, or invested in a fund that’s got debt, that debt could trickle down because of UDFI & your IRA.
One cool caveat, the solo 401 k’s are exempt from leveraged real estate! Consider it a “Blocker” allowing you to run into the endzone untouched! So, your only cost would be the set up of the solo 401K.
For this and other strategies business owners use to circumvent UDIF consult with your accountant/tax strategist. Like Mark J. Kohler and company.
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Source: Mark J Kohler