IRS Gives Answers In Final QBI Deduction Regs

Image of business woman giving presentation on final QBI deduction regs

The IRS and Treasury Department issued the final QBI deduction regulations on Jan. 18, 2019. Many eligible taxpayers and tax professionals have been waiting for the IRS to clarify their questions about this deduction. Here are key points in the final QBI deduction regs that either supported, updated, or changed items in the proposed regulations.

Pay attention. These regs might impact your QBI deduction amount.

Real estate & safe harbor

A key part of the QBI deduction – or Section 199A deduction – is the definition of a qualified trade or business. This classification impacts whether you’re able to claim the deduction and your deduction limit.

Many people questioned whether rental real estate activities qualified as a trade or business. In the final regulations, the IRS didn’t provide direct rules on how to determine if your rental real estate is a qualified trade or business. However, the IRS did say it’s up to you and your tax practitioner to make this decision based on facts and circumstances.

The IRS also established a safe harbor which may help rental real estate businesses determine if they’re eligible for the deduction.

If your rental meets the requirements of the safe harbor, it’s treated as a trade or business for this deduction. If you don’t meet the conditions of this safe harbor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t claim the QBI deduction. Keep in mind, you or disregarded LLCs must own the rental properties in order to meet these safe harbor requirements.

Here are the three safe harbor requirements:

  1. At least 250 hours of services are performed each taxable year with respect to the enterprise
    • Services include services performed by owners, employees, and independent contractors. It also includes time spent on maintenance, repairs, collecting rent, paying expenses, providing services to tenants, and efforts to rent the property.
    • Any hours spent by someone acting as an investor or doing investment-related activities don’t count toward the 250 hours.
  2. You must maintain separate books, records, and bank accounts for the rental real estate enterprise(s).
  3. If you lease property under a triple net lease or use the property as your own residence for any part of the year, it isn’t eligible for the safe harbor.
    • A triple net lease is a lease agreement where the tenant is responsible for the property’s expenses. Expenses can be property taxes, insurance, and maintenance.


Consulting services

The IRS decided that architecture and engineering services aren’t consulting services. If you provide these services and they meet the definition of consulting services, it isn’t a specified service trade or business (SSTB). It’s a qualified trade or business which influences your final deduction amount, ability to aggregate, and more.


Aggregation rules

If you want to aggregate – or combine – your businesses for this deduction, you must meet certain requirements.


Rent/leasing property

Does your business fall into the rental real estate category? Review the IRS’ rulings above to help you decide if you can aggregate your businesses.

The IRS allows a relevant pass-through entity (RPE) to aggregate trades or businesses that it operates directly, or through lower-tier RPEs. Then, the RPE and all its owners must report the final aggregation. An individual or upper-tier RPE can’t separate a lower-tier RPE’s aggregation. It must maintain its aggregation.

If you lease or license an associated rental or intangible property, you can aggregate if the law is met. You must rent or license the property to a trade or business that’s conducted by an individual or RPE and is commonly controlled.

In addition, the property must be treated as a trade or business for this deduction. This applies mostly to self-rentals.


Exchanges & UBIA

Part of the QBI deduction involves calculating your qualified property limitation. When property is exchanged, you need to know the value to correctly calculate your limitation. Your unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition (UBIA) starts with the original acquisition cost of the exchanged property. Then you add the cash you paid for the property or subtract the cash you received in the exchange.


Partner-to-partner adjustments

Generally, Section 743(b) of the tax code states that you shouldn’t adjust the basis of partnership property as a result of a partnership interest transfer. In relation to the QBI deduction, partner-to-partner adjustments are treated as qualified property. Therefore, you should include them when calculating your deduction limitations.

Now, they’re only considered property to the extent that the basis adjustment reflects an increase in the fair market value of the underlying qualified property. Any Section 734(b) adjustments still don’t qualify for UBIA.


Again, these are key items to know about the QBI deduction when filing your annual tax return. Make sure you have the support, resources, and information you need to make this deduction work for you.


Have questions about the QBI deduction regs? Let’s talk!

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