James: Hi audience and listeners, this is James Kandasamy from Achieve Wealth True Value-add Real Estate Investing Podcast. Last week, we had Scott Hendricks who is a wealth manager and he covered a whole slew of topics ranging from 1031, being a broker-dealer, how someone can be a broker-dealer to raise money legally. He also covered DSTs – Delaware Statutory Trust and some of the items of Opportunity Zone. So it was a very, very interesting topic where I learned a lot and I’m sure if you go back and listen to that, it’s going to be very, very educational as well.
Today I have Yonah Weiss from a medicine spec. Yonah is a business director and a medicine specs. She is focused on a lot of things but primarily Yonah focuses on cost segregation and bonus depreciation, which gives us a huge tax benefit for a lot of commercial asset class investors. Hey, Yonah, welcome to the show.
Yonah: Thank you very much, James, for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on your show. I love your show. It’s one of the most, I’d say, one of the highest quality podcasts in the industry.
James: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I’ve been doing this for the past six to eight months and recently, I don’t know it, it’s a surprise to me as well that, you know, one of the I think radio public they selected this show as one of the top 24 shows for real estate investing in 2019 which is a very big surprise for me. So I’m happy that people are finding value in this podcast and I’m learning as well. So, Yonah, you have been in a lot of podcasts in many, many podcasts so I definitely want to cover cost segregation, bonus depreciation, but I want to go a lot deeper into a lot of other aspects of your personal growth and of the tax code itself. So hope you’re ready for this.
Yonah: Let’s do it.
James: Okay. Awesome. Awesome. So at a very high level, can you define depreciation?
Yonah: Depreciation, in fact, usually means something going down in value. But for our intents and purposes, because we’re talking real estate here, it’s actually just a borrowed term. It’s a tax deduction. It’s a tax write off based on the fact, on the principle, that things go down in value as time goes on. So the IRS gives you, as a property owner, a tax write off of the entire value of your property over a certain number of years and that write off is called depreciation.
James: Okay, got it. Got it. So it becomes much sweeter when the depreciation is just a paper loss, rather than actually losing the value of the building.
Yonah: Exactly, exactly. So it’s different from, an appraisal standpoint, you know, an appraiser might look at the property and be like, it actually has a lesser value because it is this many years old. So that’s the difference when we’re just talking kind of theoretical.
James: Got it. So clarify me if I’m wrong. Only in the US, we get depreciation for a property that already been built and used for like 20-30 years. When someone buys it again, he gets a fresh depreciation start. Is that right? I mean, all other countries are like if you build new, they consider it getting old and it’s depreciating. Is that true?
Yonah: Right. Yeah. I mean, I can’t say for sure because I’m not really well versed in every other country’s tax laws. But yeah, the US tax code is based on, even if it’s a used property, you can actually take the tax write off, which is actually interesting because a lot of people don’t know this. You can actually use depreciation on properties in other countries if you’re a US taxpayer. So if you own, let’s say, a large property in India or wherever and you’re paying us taxes, you can actually take the depreciation deductions from that property on foreign soil. It’s a very little known fact, but it has to go on a different schedule. It’s called the ADS, the Alternative Depreciation Schedule, which is a little longer instead of 27 years, it’s 40 years. But yeah, that is something unique as well.
James: Oh, I think that’s probably a new fact for a lot of people because a lot of people have properties in other countries. So, do you know the details on how do you get the depreciation or you just have to work with a CPA and some tax consultant or how is that?
Yonah: Yeah, I mean like all of your depreciation, it should go on your schedule with listing the property and then it just has to be filed on a different schedule. Meaning it’s like I said, it’s called the alternative depreciation schedule instead of the regular, which is called the modified adjusted, the regular schedule and the macro schedule, which we go on for most things like 27 and a half years for a residential, 39 for commercial. So it’s important to just note that and work with the CPA, who knows how to do that because yeah, you can get extra tax deductions.
James: And is this depreciation only for a brick and mortar assets? Is there any other assets? Like if I buy a goal, if I buy, I mean land, of course, there’s no depreciation, right? There are only for buildings, which is a true brick and mortar. Is there any other investment vehicle that has depreciation other than real estate, which is the brick and mortar?
Yonah: Well, there are other types of properties like equipment and things like that that maybe commercial owners might have, which have depreciation deductions. It’s different than the regular depreciation, which we discussed in real estate. It’s under a different code. The 179 deductions, which you know, will apply to a lot of commercial equipment and stuff like that that you can use that deduction to write off business equipment and things like that. Or even if you know large, you know, software, you know, any type of business, an asset that you’re buying is not necessarily property that can be deducted and depreciated.
James: Got it, got it. So, yeah, that’s very interesting because depreciation is one of the most powerful word for real estate investing. I mean, compared to stocks and bonds and, you know, buying a goal. I mean real estate is something that, you know, this has been created by the tax code to say that….do you know why they do that? Is it because all the people in Congress invest in real estate that’s why they kept depreciation as it is?
Yonah: That’s my theory.
James: Thanks for being honest.
Yonah: It hasn’t been corroborated, I haven’t done any independent studies or anything like that, but yeah. You know, it makes sense to me. It sounds like even a little corrupt just like speaking about it, but you know, somebody would like to say, cause it adds to the economy, like real estate, the businesses, you’re going to be adding jobs and housing and et cetera, et cetera. But yeah, at the end of the day, you know, keeping the rich richer is something that the government has an interest in.
James: So, yeah. I mean, this is one of the secrets that when I was working W2 and I didn’t know about it and I didn’t know how much, you know, it impacts your savings, your tax savings. Right? So it becomes a huge fact if you’re able to depreciate to get some tax savings in and it’s all on paper. There’s no real stuff that’s being depreciated. And real estate is a huge beneficiary of this depreciation, right?
James: So what is the reason why land can’t be depreciated?
Yonah: So I guess because land never really goes away. And land is kind of a constant status. So, you know, you buy a property and the property…see, it’s interesting, this schedule that the IRS set up, that all stuff and we’re going to talk about cost segregation, breaking those things down into different categories and different schedules. You know, each type of asset has a different lifespan. And there are so many different categories, right? So you have stuff that fits into a 39-year category, stuff that fits into a 27 and a half your category, you have 20 years, 15 years, you know, 10 years, seven-year and all of these different things. And there are lists, you know, in each one of these categories, the land is the one thing that’s constant that you know, it’s always going to have value regardless. And when you buy a property, even the tax assessor, the county assessors are going to understand that you’re buying land and you’re buying the improvements on that land. And the improvements can include, buildings, it can include landscaping, it can include the personal property that we’re going to break down further with a cost SEG. But yeah, land is just one of those constants that don’t change. You can’t write that off.
James: Okay. Okay. I’m just thinking about whether… I mean maybe people don’t like land. Maybe the people in Congress don’t like land. That’s why they say, okay, forget about land, let’s go and do the building.
Yonah: Maybe it’s also because I mean if you think about it, the fact that we’re paying property tax on our land is really an admission to the fact that the County really owns the land. Meaning we’re really just renting the land in a way. Even though you own a property and you own that and you have the title to that property, but how can the County like tax you on it? Because you know, at the end of the day it’s still part of that County, right? It’s still part of that governance. And so maybe that’s why you don’t actually get the tax write off for something that, you know, in all intents and purposes is only being kind of lease from you.
James: Got it. Makes sense. Usually, have, when I look at the County records and we land and implement improvements, the building is on top of the land, right? So usually – I don’t know, I’m so well-well-versed with Texas, I’m not sure about other States – but usually, it’s like 80 or 90% is the building and 10% to 20% is the land. Is that generic across all the States?
Yonah: I’d say it’s pretty average. Like meaning the national average. However, there are places where the land is going to be valued at a much higher level. For example, California is crazy. I mean the land values in California, I’ve seen up to 60% like literally, which is crazy. So obviously, the more the land value is, the less the improvements made, the less you can actually depreciate if you’re basing that ratio. So yeah, so in certain cities like New York City also, like sometimes the land value is going to be higher, just because like that land is worth a lot more.
James: Oh, it’s worth a lot more and you can’t depreciate, which is the absolute reason why everybody should invest in Texas and Florida at mid-city, not in the coastal side of it because the land is more expensive and they don’t really give any depreciation schedule. That’s a really good point. I never really thought about that. So yeah, that’s another reason why, you know, people should be investing in places where the land is more expensive. I mean it’s like 50% right off the hole. Okay. Interesting. So coming back to, you know, can you define how does depreciation gives a tax benefit for an investor in real estate?
Yonah: So again, depreciation is a write off, right? Income tax, write off. Income tax write off means if you make $100,000, normally you’re going to be taxed on that $100,000. If your tax rate is, you know, 39%, you’ve got to pay $39,000 to the government. Depreciation is the deduction so also, you know, if you have kids, there are all sorts of deductions that you can take. But depreciation is just a deduction right off the top. So let’s say your depreciation deduction from your property is $50,000. So guess what? That’s you just cut your income tax liability in half. So now you’re only going to have to pay taxes on the 50,000 because 50,000 was your deduction. If you took that off your income tax liability, you’re left with 50,000 to pay tax on, you’re going to only have to pay 19 and a half instead of 39.
James: Got it. So I mean, for the audience who’s listening, I mean, in real estate you know, I mean in general, in investment real estate, there are two worlds; one is the investment world and the other one’s the tax world. So whatever we are talking right now is what happens in the tax world, right? In the investment world, of course, you get the cash flow and you’re going to spend it, right? It’s like normal. You’re not losing money, right? Whereas the tax world, the IRS tax code is meant to incentivize a lot of real estate investors. So they do this virtual depreciation, which is basically you’re not really losing money, but they’re saying you’re losing money on paper and they say you are basically not paying taxes for that income.
Yonah: Right, right. Which is crazy. In my opinion, this is probably one of the craziest rules in the tax code. To trump that – not to use any puns or anything like that – To trump that rule is the real estate professional status. Which is crazy. I mean, these rules are just, they’re made for the wealthy.
James: The ones who invest in real estate, I would say. Right. So let’s go back to a lot more details into this depreciation, which is getting a write off on a yearly basis. And so, whatever cash flow we get, let’s say your depreciation’s more than cash flow, you’re basically not paying taxes on it.
Yonah: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s really going to be the goal. And that’s one of the things that cost segregation, right? And the bonus depreciation especially can help to accomplish that. Whatever cashflow that you have, whatever income that you’re making, it’s, hopefully, going to be tax-free income.
James: So however, I mean on every year you’re taking depreciation but when you sell, you’re still doing a depreciation recapture. So can you explain to me how this whole, whatever you took in the past, let’s say five years, you’re recapturing it back on a sale? Was the whole benefit was just pushed to the sale or what happened?
Yonah: All right, so a few things happen when you sell property. Number one thing happens, there’s capital gains tax, which means if you made a profit on that sale, right? You bought it for a hundred, sold it for 200 you got a gain. You have to pay tax on that gain. There’s also something called depreciation recapture tax. Okay. And again, this is tax, it’s not recapturing and you’re not paying back, you’re just being taxed on the amount of depreciation that you took over the course of ownership. So there are different rates at which that depreciation recapture is taxed at. One rate is commonly capped at 25%. That’s like at the capital gains rate, which is for real property, which is for the real estate. However, there is another rate which is going to be taxed at ordinary income rates, which is on a personal property, which is stuff that we’re taking with the cost of depreciation but a lot of people don’t think about and it’s actually taxed at a higher rate and you’re taking it more upfront.
What ended up happening is, just to break it down very simply, we’re taking huge deductions in their early years of ownership so that we’re basically tax-free. Yes, that does mean that when it comes time to sell, we’re going to get hit with tax on the backend. But in the interim, in that meantime, from the time you bought it until the time you sold it, hopefully, all of that money you’re keeping cash-free and assume it’s tax-free, that cash is now worth a lot more. This is called the time value of money. It’s worth a lot more because you can now use it, you can reinvest it, you can make more compound interest on that money then having to pay it later on. Also, it’s your money. So there’s this kind of misconception – I’m just going to digress here for a second. I’ll come back to the depreciation recapture tax.
There’s a misconception that you have to pay taxes. And I think this comes to us from being in the corporate world where we get our paycheck and taxes are automatically deducted as if it’s not our money. So real estate is a way that we’re making money, all that cash flow, but we’re not taking off the top to give to Uncle Sam. We’re keeping as much as we can because it’s your money. It’s not money you have to pay tax on. You only have to pay tax when you have that tax liability. When you have to pay. But if you have more deductions then it’s your money to keep. Yes. So part of the real strategy, real estate is kind of differing, pushing off to a later date.
And one of the reasons why that is is because there are other strategies down the road that can help to negate that taxes as well. So it’s better to pay fewer taxes now and deal with it later because later on, you may have other strategies on sale that you wouldn’t have had now upfront. And one of those things is a 1031 exchange, which you can now defer capital gains tax and you can differ the depreciation recapture tax also. There’s another strategy that is less known but probably more powerful than a 1031 exchange. And this is called the partial asset disposition, which allows you to claim a lesser value on property that you dispose of because it has less value than it did when you bought it. Okay. Which means like this, if I bought a property for…and it comes in specifically with personal property. So your furniture; let’s say you buy this table, this desk I’m sitting at, it costs $10,000. Now, I bought it for $10,000 in five years from now if I’m depreciating it, on a five-year schedule and with cost segregation, then really this has zero tax value. It’s no longer, on paper, it’s no longer worth anything, right, James?
James: Yep, absolutely.
Yonah: When I sell this table with this desk, I can actually write on a tax form that I am disposing of this personal property. It no longer has value to me. Maybe it has $100, something minimal, just nominal. Now I only pay the depreciation recapture tax on what’s left on the remaining $100 value. So again, this only can happen when you’re selling a property. This is only something or you’re disposing of it. If you also renovate it, you can write that off also. But this only happens….understand that this is a strategy that we can only take later on.
James: Oh, okay. So what you’re saying is even though you have depreciated 100% on top of like taking like 25% of that 100% at sale, now instead of paying 25% recapture, maybe the recapture amount as much lower because some of the things you can say, Hey, this is completely useless right now.
Yonah: Even though it’s not. But from a tax perspective, it is because you’ve depreciated it. It’s already been used now. So that means even on the depreciation recapture tax at a later date can actually be pushed off. I’ll mention another great strategy, which is if you’re a real estate professional and now you can use your depreciation or your losses to offset your active income as well. Once you’ve offset that active income, you can now use that to offset other taxes like capital gains tax or depreciation recapture tax. So for goodness sakes, if you have huge losses from this property and then you go and sell the property, guess what? You may actually be able to negate all of the tax that would have come from the losses themselves.
James: Absolutely. I mean that’s what we do, right? So as an elected professional, right. And that’s what most of the people who are doing a large real estate transaction, including a lot of people in Congress, is doing. It’s all meant to reduce their taxes or pay no taxes or defer it for later on time. But I want to understand one thing, I want to understand one thing. So at a sale, from what I know, you have to do a 25% recapture. But you say that 25% recapture that’s also another part of the recapture, which is at a different rate level. Can you explain what is the 25% recapture and what is the other part and how do you split within these two?
Yonah: Yeah, without getting too complicated, because there are actually different, there’s like sliding scales and there are different rates involved. But generally speaking, there’s what’s called the unrealized gain, the depreciation recapture on the property itself, which you haven’t appreciated and so that’s on a 25%. And then you have personal property, which is on the ordinary income rate.
James: Okay. And when you talk about personal property, can you give some examples of what does that personal property…like say for an apartment, in a multifamily building.
Yonah: Right. So, again, if you’re doing cost segregation, basically anything that you’re segregating out you know, most of that stuff falls into the personal property category. So, you know, cabinets, carpeting, fixtures, appliances, all that stuff.
James: Oh, got it. Got it. So, okay, we’re going to go to cost segregation, then hopefully, it will be more clear. So all these times we only talk about depreciation, which is fundamental things in the whole tax incentive for real estate, right? So now, comes what you call the B grade, I guess. Right? And earlier we were like at a C grade, now we’re at the B grade and we’re going to go to the A-grade, which is bonus depreciation. Let’s talk about B grade. What is cost segregation and how does it fall on top of depreciation?
Yonah: Oh yeah. It’s not really on top of, what it’s doing is separating out the property into these different lives. So if we go back to our original example, the depreciation you’re getting, you’re able to write off the entire value of the building over a 27 and a half year span for apartments. For other commercials, it’s on a 39-year schedule. That means you buy a property for $1 million, you can now write off, subtract some for land, 10%, 20% for land, and then the remaining $800-900,000, you can now write off as a tax, write off a paper loss a little bit every single year.
Cost segregation allows, according to the tax code, you can have an engineer come to the property and actually allocate every tiny detail of that property into different categories which depreciate on faster scales, on faster rates. So you have stuff that depreciates on a five-year schedule, as I mentioned, all that personal property, furniture, fixtures, appliances, carpet and cabinets, all that stuff; if you put on a five year schedule, that means that you can literally take and write that entire value off, take as a tax deduction in those first five years instead of lumping it all together. With the entire million dollars, you’re going to take 20%, let’s say $200,000 and now, take that as a write off in the first five years.
James: Got it. Got it. So just to give some education for the audience. So depreciation on real estate, especially on residential real estate is usually it goes across 27.5 years. And then what you’re saying, cost segregation, they say, Oh, not everything in this building is 27.5 now we have windows, we have appliances, we have carpet, which we want to depreciate, for example, in five years. Then that’s driveway where they say, Oh, it’s seven-year depreciation. And then I can’t remember what’s the 15 years, can you give me some examples?
Yonah: Right. 15 years is going to be anything that’s considered land improvements. And land improvements includes landscaping, asphalt, parking lots, anything outside of the property that’s not considered land, but like fencing, if you have a swimming pool, all that stuff, the concrete, all of that is on a 15-year schedule.
James: Got it. So they split it into five, seven, 15 and they start depreciating. So very interesting. So does it matter whether you are doing this cost segregation on a major rehab project; with this project, there’s no rehab?
Yonah: You can definitely get more benefits when you’re doing a rehab. Because when you are adding any money to the property, that money being added in the capital expenditures, it’s going to be added to that basis. Meaning added to the books and now going to depreciate that amount of money as well because that’s going into the property. So, again, if you bought this building for $1 million and then you went and added another $500,000 in renovations, that $500,000 now gets depreciated as well. So you can cost segregate that as well and break that up into the different components.
James: Oh, interesting. I didn’t know that. I mean we do a lot of rehab projects and I just never understood whether we should do more rehab will be better. But what do you think just increases the value and you get a bigger depreciation compared to…
Yonah: And not only that, we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves cause now we’re not at the A level yet, we’re going to come back to that. You can do the bonus depreciation on the rehab as well.
James: Got it. Got it. So very interesting. So does it matter if I buy a small 50 units and depreciate versus buying 300 units and depreciate for any investors in these deals?
Yonah: You know, what do you mean ‘does it matter’?
James: Well, I mean whether you get more benefit out of it or not. I mean, let’s say, you invest 100,000 into this deal, does it matter if I invest 100,000 into small 50 units versus putting 100,000 and do 300 units?
Yonah: It’s going to be pretty much within the same scale because multifamily properties in general if they’re the same type of style, the percentages are going to be pretty similar within a window. So anywhere between, I’d say, 20 to 35% is going to be your general cost segregation, the reallocation of the assets, the faster lives. So you know, there are going to be, each property is going to be different, but generally speaking, it’s going to be pretty similar.
James: Okay. So it’s basically based on percentage and the scale.
James: Okay. I never understood that.
Yonah: So if it was a million-dollar property and you’re putting $100,000, you
have 10%. If it’s a $10 million property, you put 100,000, your percentage of ownership is going to be a lot less.
James: Correct. Correct. Yeah. Because I have some investors who say, I only invest in 300 plus unit and I never understand why. So, because sometimes, I mean, a lot of times on a smaller property makes a lot more money. And sometimes they just want to do the bigger one. So I always think that there must be some kind of tax benefit that they’re doing it. But at the end of the day it’s just a percentage of whatever equity that you are getting.
James: Got it. Got it. So is there any tips and tricks for multifamily investors or
any value add investors when they’re rehabbing their project? For example, I met someone the other day where they say you are able to write off the address plate of a unit. Like, say unit one or two. If that address plate is on a metal, they say that you can write it off as part of tax depreciation. Whereas if you go and you know, put a sticker or coughed out the number, you’re not able to, that was a huge thing for me. Is that true? I mean, do you get some kind of benefit when you do that?
Yonah: I mean that is true. Again, that’s part of the five-year assets that engineers could come and recognize what that is. And there are tons of things like that. You know, whether it’s going to be what type of flooring you’re putting in.
James: Okay, let’s go into that flooring. What flooring will give you the biggest bonus?
Yonah: Alright. So carpeting is five-year property. Vinyl flooring is a five-year property. But if you’re going to do real tiles, for example, that’s considered actually part of the structure so it’s going to one of the 27 and a half year component.
James: So doing carpet and vinyl would be beneficial than in tiles in cost segregation/depreciation (?)
Yonah: Much more. Yeah. Cause that’s actually one of the high-value components if you think about it in each unit. Like, think about how much you spend on flooring.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Flooring is one of the biggest expenses, especially on a major rehab. So that’s a really good benefit that I never really thought of because I do have properties with tiles and I would think about converting it. And, of course, we don’t do it for the sake of getting depreciation but it’s just a bonus, I guess. What else is there that comes out to you that you think, Hey, to get these small benefits of depreciation, you guys should look at that. What else is in a value-add rehab?
James: What about appliances? White versus black appliances, does it matter versus stainless steel?
Yonah: Always go with the black.
James: It looks better, depreciates more. No, I’m just joking.
Yonah: Yeah. I would say just be studious. Be careful with what you’re spending. Make sure that, you want to consult a tax advisor who is savvy in this area because you may be leaving a lot of money on the table. You may be leaving huge tax deductions that you may be able to get. And one of the great things about depreciation is that again, we’re taking the right off of the entire value of the property, even if you didn’t even spend that from your own pocket. Meaning you took that on a loan, you took leverage to buy that property. The bank’s money you get the tax write off for,
James: Oh, that’s awesome.
Yonah: You think about it, you buy a million dollar property, you put down, maybe 200-250 your own money, but you’re getting a tax write off of $1 million, which is crazy. So too with the construction, with the renovations, you may get 100% financing for those construction costs and you can write the entire thing off as a tax write off.
James: Got it. Got it. That’s very interesting. So let me ask you one more thing though. If I have a choice, for example, a roof, it’s part of the structure, right? So if I have a choice to ask the seller to replace the roof before we close on the deal or should I do it after we close on the deal? Does it make a difference in terms of who gets the depreciation?
Yonah: I mean, obviously, not from a depreciation standpoint per se because either way, you’re going to get the deduction because if you buy the property, you’re buying the roof as well as part of the property. If you then go and spend your money, then it’s money that you’re spending from your own money or from the bank’s money, whatever, and then you’re going to depreciate that as well. So the roof happens to be part of a structural component, which is not gonna be eligible for bonus depreciation or you know, cost segregation, it’s just going to be part of the main structure of the building, which depreciates at a later time. So it’s not necessarily something that’s going to get more more benefit per se.
James: Unless the roof is increasing your price at closing. I guess, right?
Yonah: Obviously, right. And if you have you deferred maintenance on that end that you can benefit from.
James: Got it. Got it. Very interesting. A lot of strategies that we can do when we’re doing a value-add project. Which I think is important to understand because some things can make a lot of difference in terms of your tax benefit. So I want to go a bit more detailed into the five, seven and 15 years, right? So because of this, let’s say you’re depreciating a lot of the five years, a depreciation on max later schedule, right? And let’s say you keep this property for two years, right? After two years you decided, okay, I’m going to sell it off versus keeping it more than around five years, right? So what’s the benefit? What’s the threshold of benefits of that depreciation versus depreciation recapture that you are getting on how long you hold the property?
Yonah: Again, the threshold when you’re going to look at property to property on an individual basis you really have to kind of look at it in a bubble and it’s difficult to do. I mean, you may want to do that because the investors are involved, et cetera, in that regard. But even before I answer that, I like to just kind of take a step back and realize that the real benefit of real estate is when you’re going to be constantly buying more, right? Because whatever’s going to happen to this property, the taxes in this one can potentially be deferred and be pushed off with the next property I buy. And so, that’s a viable strategy. Again, we also have to take a step forward and look at each property on an individual level as if like, this is the only property I’m ever going to buy.
And so if that being said, if it’s the only property you’re only gonna buy, so you have to see, is this going to benefit me? If I hold this for two years, I’m going to take this depreciation upfront and therefore I’m going to get the tax free cash flow in the first two years. And then when I sell, I’m going to have higher taxes to pay then. So again, that calculation is going to obviously going to come up at that point. I would say that you should really take that into consideration. You know, if you’re going to have two years old versus a three-year-old, or a five-year-old again, the cash flow is the main key to this puzzle. And then, if you are refinancing, which is another possibility, then that money coming from the refinance is also tax-free. It’s not a taxable event, which means that that money that’s coming back to your investors, which you may decide to pay out proceeds from the refinance to the investors, will actually increase their returns as well. So it’s all part of like a bigger calculation.
James: Okay. Awesome. So let’s go to number A, the king of depreciation now, which was because of the introduction of the tax act 2017. The introduced bonus depreciation for used property. So usually bonus depreciation is only built for new properties, right? So can you explain how that was born and what’s the motivation behind it and how does it work to become A grade depreciation?
Yonah: Yeah, so bonus depreciation, 100% bonus depreciation I should say, you know, came about on used property. That means that it used to be only if you built a new building. You did new construction, you were able to take a tax write off of the depreciation of anything that depreciates under a 20-year schedule. So again, that goes back to all this stuff. We’re going to segregate, the cost segregation, the 15-year land improvements, the five-year assets, which are all personal property, et cetera. All of that stuff can now be eligible for bonus depreciation. Now, when you’re doing a new build, it used to be only 50% of that. I mean, you could take a 50% in the first year, you could take a deduction of that depreciation.
Then came the new tax code and said not only to 50, we’re going to move it to 100%, which means you can take 100% of all of that depreciation and write it off in the first year. Okay. And used property, meaning even if it’s an old property, you’re buying it for the first time. So this is really going to take depreciation to a whole new level. It’s going to take the first year, you know, instead of like on that million-dollar property, instead of a $30,000 tax write off for regular depreciation. And then you’re gonna move it up with regular cost segregation, maybe to 60 or 70,000, comes bonus depreciation and potentially you’re going to get like a $200-250,000 write off.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And what’s the motivation of the government passing this tax law? If you know.
Yonah: I didn’t come here to discuss politics.
James: Okay. We have to get away from that. So there must be some reason.
Yonah: I think it has to do with the stimulation of the economy, right? The more tax write-offs, the more money can go back into investing, creating jobs, create more housing, et cetera, et cetera.
James: But it’s limited until 2023 if I’m not mistaken. And after that from 100% becomes, I can’t remember, 50%?
Yonah: It goes to 80% and starts phasing out every year until it’s gone.
James: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, I mean it’s surprising for me because I did a lot of bonus depreciation for most of my properties. I think all of it is last year and everybody like almost like right off their capital. And when they looked at their K1 and everybody was surprised that, I mean a lot of people understood what it is, but there were a lot of new people who are asking me, what happened to my money? Did you disappear? Absolutely. Everybody was asking for it because a lot of them got like almost 90 to 100% write off. And I had to explain to them about the bonus depreciation and all that. So yeah, I’m going to be doing a webinar soon, I think, in the next few weeks.
I’m not sure when is this episode going to be aired. Probably we’ll pass the webinar, but if any of you are interested in getting that webinar link to register, cause I’m going to get a CPA to translate all this bonus depreciation into how passive investors will get the benefit out of it because there’s a lot of ethicalities when it comes to tax codes. And I want to get a CPA who specializes in real estate professionals and how does this whole thing benefits everybody in investing in real estate, including passive investors who are not real estate professionals. Cause a lot of times real estate professionals, well understood, but people didn’t want to know how does passive investors get the benefit out of real estate investing. All of that will be in the webinar, it’s going to be a very interesting webinar. So can you tell our audience how to get all of you?
Yonah: The best way to find me is actually LinkedIn. That’s my home base. That’s where I hang out and spend most of my time. But seriously, you can reach me, my email is a great way to contact me, YWeiss@madisonspecs.com. So SPECS is actually an acronym for specialized property engineering cost segregation. So that’s our firm. And yeah, especially if you have a property you’re looking at and you want to see what the potential benefits would be, we do an upfront analysis so you can just kind of see what those numbers, the potential tax benefits would be. Whether you’re under a contract with a property that bought a property, owned property for years, you can see that. So yeah, happy to do that and please connect with me on LinkedIn.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And before I let you go, when is the best time for someone to engage cost segregation firm? Is it before they go under contract? When they’re looking at a deal after they close on the deal?
Yonah: Usually you know, after they close is the best, I mean to engage, obviously you can reach out to me for that estimate. Even when you’re under contract, it’s probably the best time, but you know, you’re wanting to get it done if you need it in the first year, which not everyone needs it in the first year. You may buy a property that’s totally not profitable, you have no income. You don’t need this. But yeah, if you want to get it done in the first year, the sooner the better. Because again, you need this for your tax filing and especially if you have investors, you can just send out K1, you need to get that out earlier on the year. The sooner the better, you can get it done.
James: Oh, interesting. I usually start the first year itself, but what you’re saying is when you need the depreciation, I guess. So, yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Yonah, very nice to have you on our show and I learned a lot and I’m sure our audience learned a lot. We go so much into the detail of, you know, one of the biggest benefit of investing real estate on top of the cash flow that you get. So the depreciation and the cost seg, and now the A-class depreciation of bonus depreciation. Absolutely. Thank you very much.
Yonah: Thank you, James. It was my pleasure and we will see you soon.
James: Absolutely. Thank you.