Attaining Capital Gains Treatment of Property Transactions: Dealer Versus Investor
New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants
The CPA Journal
Because of the current low capital gains rates, many speculative investors are selling large parcels of undeveloped or partially developed real estate. The IRS has sought to tax such sales at the higher ordinary income rates. According to the IRS, if such sales are frequent or substantial, if the property has been improved too much by the seller, or if the seller is merely an "agent" of the buyer, then the IRS will deny capital gains treatment. Investor status benefits all taxpayers. Individual taxpayers are subject to a maximum 15% tax rate on capital gains resulting from the sale of property that has been held for a period of greater than one year. Taxpayers assume a degree of risk in claiming investor status because such related-party transactions receiving capital gains treatment are frequently contested by the IRS. Taxpayers wishing to minimize the risk of an audit may seek a private letter ruling from the IRS.