Cash and Property Contributions to Partnerships and Their Affect on a Partnership Interest

A partnership is defined to mean the relationship between two or more persons to carry on a trade or business, with each person contributing money, property, labor, or skill, and each expecting to share in profits and losses.  This article will provide a broad overview of some of the tax consequences of cash and property contributions to a partnership (whether upon formation or additional contributions later), the basis of partnership interests received by partners, the basis of contributed property to the partnership, and some other helpful information.

Basis of a Partner’s Interest

The basis of a partnership interest is the cash contributed by a partner, increased by the adjusted basis of any property contributed by a partner. In general, no gain or loss will be recognized when property is contributed by a partner in exchange for an interest in a partnership; however, in certain circumstances (explained further in this article), a partner must recognize gain, and if so, this gain is included in the basis of his or her partnership interest.

Special rules apply to a partner’s contribution to the partnership in the form of assumption of a partnership’s liabilities.

Basis of Contributed Property to the Partnership (Transferred Basis)

For the partnership, the basis of contributed property (for the purpose of determining depreciation, depletion, gain, or loss for the property) will be the same as the partner’s adjusted basis for the property as of the date it was contributed, increased by any gain that must be recognized by the partner.

Contribution of Property- Top Three Exceptions to General Recognition Rules

As mentioned above, usually no gain or loss will be recognized by either a partner or partnership when property is contributed to a partnership in exchange for an interest in the partnership. This general rule applies to both situations where a partnership is being formed and already existing partnerships.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, three of which are explained below.

1) Property Subject to a Liability

If a partner contributes property that is subject to a liability, or if a partner’s liabilities are assumed by the partnership, that partner’s basis interest will usually be reduced (but never below zero) by the amount of the liability assumed by the other partners. The partner’s basis should be reduced because the assumption of the liability is treated as a distribution of cash to that partner; the other partners’ assumption of the liability is likely to be treated as a cash contribution by them to the partnership.

In most circumstances, a partner must recognize gain when property is contributed which is subject to a liability, and the resulting decrease in the partner’s individual liability exceeds the partner’s partnership basis.

2) Partnership Would be an Investment Company if Incorporated

Gain will be recognized when property is contributed in exchange for a partnership interest if the partnership would be treated as an investment company, if it were incorporated .

A partnership will usually be treated as an investment company if over 80% of the value of its assets is held for investment, and it consists of certain readily marketable items, such as money, stocks and other equity interests, real estate investment trusts, and interests in regulated investment companies. Whether a partnership will be treated as an investment company or not, is typically determined immediately after the contribution of property.

3) Partnership Capital in Exchange for Services Rendered

In most circumstances, if a partner receives a partnership interest in exchange for services rendered, that partner must recognize compensation income.

Partnership’s Holding Period for Contributed Property

Usually, the partnership’s holding period for contributed property includes the partner’s holding period.

Partner’s Holding Period for Partnership Interest

A partner’s holding period for a partnership interest usually includes the holding period of the property contributed (if the property was a capital asset or Section 1231 asset to the contributing partner).

Treatment of Built-In Gain/Loss to the Partnership

In general, if a partner contributes (non-depreciable) property, and the partnership eventually sells or exchanges the property and recognizes gain or loss, the built-in gain or loss must be allocated to the contributing partner. (If the property is depreciable, detailed rules apply to allocation procedures).

Partner’s Basis Increases/Decreases

A partner’s basis will usually increase by any additional contributions by a partner to a partnership (including an increased share of, or assumption of, a partnership’s liabilities), a partner’s distributive share of taxable and nontaxable partnership income, and in general, a partner’s distributive share of the excess of the deductions for depletion over the basis of depletable property.

In general, a partner’s basis will decrease (but not below zero) by any money (including a decreased share of partnership liabilities, or an assumption of the partner’s individual liabilities by the partnership) and adjusted basis of property distributed by a partnership to a partner, a partner’s distributive share of partnership losses, and a partner’s distributive share of nondeductible partnership expenses that are not capital expenditures (including a partner’s share of any section 179 expenses).

Contact Sherayzen Law Office For Legal and Tax Help Regarding Partnerships

The contribution of property to partnerships and various partnership-partner taxation matters can involve complex issues, and this article only attempts to provide a very general background information that should not be relied upon in forming a partnership, contributing property to the partnership or any other specific taxation aspects. Rather, you should contact Sherayzen Law Office for legal help with this issue. Our experienced business tax firm will guide you through the complex web of rules concerning U.S. partnership formation and taxation matters and help you with your specific needs.