Partnership Property Contribution and Taxable Exchange

Partnerships offer many tax advantages for their partners. One such benefit is that when property is contributed to a partnership in return for a partnership interest, typically no gain or loss will be recognized. This general rule applies both to partnerships already in existence as well as newly-formed partnerships.

However, this is not always the case. This article will cover several common examples of instances in which a taxable exchange may result at some point.

Disguised Sales

Under Internal Revenue Code Section 707(a), in certain circumstances, the IRS will deem a supposed contribution of property to a partnership in exchange for a partnership interest to be a “disguised sale”. A disguised sale occurs when property that has appreciated in value is contributed, and soon after, the partner receives a distribution from the partnership. The IRS will view the distribution received as a payment for the property contributed.

Recently the IRS issued final regulations regarding disguised sales. In general, contributions and distributions made within a two-year period will be deemed to be sales. A disguised sale may also occur when a partner contributes property to a partnership, and the same property is then transferred to another partner either as a distribution, or as a liquidation of the second partner’s interest in the partnership. Additionally, a contribution may be treated as a disguised sale when, either before or after the contribution, different property is distributed to the contributing property within two years.

Under the regulations, however, if a distribution is made to a partner over two years after property is contributed and the distribution is reasonable in light of a variety of factors, the distribution will generally not be deemed to be a disguised sale.

Pre-Contribution Gain (Built-in Gain)

In general, taxable gains may also occur when contributed property that originally had a fair market value different from its basis (“pre-contribution” or “built-in” gain), and within seven years of the contribution date, the property is distributed to a different partner. In such instances, the distribution will be treated as a sale, and the contributing partner will recognize any net pre-contribution gain on the property. Any gain recognized by a contributing partner will increase his or her basis in the partnership interest.

Additionally, when a partnership distributes any property (besides cash) within seven years to a partner who has contributed built-in gain property, gain will be recognized on the lesser of: (1) the remaining net built-in gain of the contributing partner, or (2) any excess of the fair market value of property distributed over the partner’s adjusted basis in the partnership interest before the distribution. Any gain recognized by the partner will increase his or her basis in the partnership interest.
An exception to these general rules may apply where property is distributed back to the partner who originally contributed it. In such instances, the partner will not need to recognize built-in gain. Instead, the general partnership distribution rules will be applicable.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Partnership Tax Issues

Partnership formation and operation can involve many complex issues, and it is often a wise idea to seek legal advice. Our experienced tax firm will thoroughly review your case, advise you on the available options and implement the customized tax strategy to your business. Contact Sherayzen Law Office to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.