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The IRS has proposed new regulations for Section 199A that define the Specified Service Trade of Business. However, in the lengthy package, there is something missing: real estate rental properties. The regulations did not qualify when a real estate rental property is considered a trade of business. The industry is left to wait for guidance on the issue, hoping for a standardized set of rules that apply to all investor types. Currently, previous court decisions are moonlighting as regulatory guidance, and will continue to do so until the IRS has more definitive regulations.

“Real estate is a subjective test whether you are in a trade of business or not. Historically, from a tax law perspective, there are several court cases to demonstrate whether you were in a trade of business or not, and I really think the Treasury is struggling to address real estate as a trade of business when there are some contradictory court cases,” Richard Gabaldon, tax partner at RSM, tells GlobeSt.com. “I believe that is why we didn’t see anything in the proposed regulations; however, we do expect more guidance. That is what we are waiting for.”

One of the issues in developing guidance is the subjective nature of real estate rental businesses and the vast differences between operators—from owners with single rental income assets to corporate owners with thousands of assets. “This is a subjective test, and you have to look at the unique circumstances within each business,” Gabaldon says. “The ideal situation would apply to all real estate investors, but you would have to circumstances check over the specific situation. There is no current test, and that is what we are waiting for. It is going to be interesting to see what the Treasury ultimately comes up with.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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