The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Paul is now part of the fourth generation in America that is involved in farming and hopes the next generation will be involved also. Through his blog he provides analysis and insight to farmer tax questions.
Many farmers have seen substantial appreciation in their farmland values over the last decade. Many of these farmers are approaching retirement age and would like to "cash" in on these values and diversify their holdings. They do not have any children to take over the farm and are worried that values in their immediate area may see a substantial drop over the next few years or would like to geographically diversify their holdings.
One option to consider is to use a Section 1031 exchange on their farmland into an UPREIT. There are several UPREITS that are investing in farmland over a broad geographical area and others that are invested strictly in commercial properties. The possible appeal to a farmer selling their land is the deferral of their income tax and more broadly diversifying their risk. The UPREIT essentially trades units for the farmers land. In return, any income from the UPREIT is allocated to the farmer based on their ownership %.
In order to take advantage of these vehicles, you must find the appropriate UPREIT to approach to see if they are interested in purchasing your farmland. If so, then the transaction can be structured in a tax-efficient manner. Most UPREITS allow the farmer to cash in their shares at a later point in time. One drawback to these vehicles is that the farmer is no longer in control.
If this might appeal to you, you need to discuss this with your tax advisor. These are not common as a regular 1031 exchange, but are very much a viable option.
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