I have been working on 1031 exchanges for many years. Here are the basics of a 1031-
The key advantage of a Section 1031 exchange is the ability to sell a property without paying any capital gain tax, or depreciation recapture at closing, which allows the earning power of the deferred taxes to work for the benefit of the investor.
Although Section 1031 refers to “an exchange of property”, it does not require a simultaneous “swap” of properties. A Qualified Intermediary “QI” is an entity who enters into a written agreement with the taxpayer (“exchanger”) to acquire the exchanger’s rights and/or ownership interest in the property the exchanger is selling (“relinquished property”), and transfer such ownership interest into one or more properties of “like-kind” that the exchanger chooses to buy (“replacement property”). A QI is required by tax law and provides a safe harbor for the taxpayer (exchanger). I use Custom 1031 in Spokane as the QI for almost all 1031 exchanges that go through my office.
In other words, the intermediary is “assigned in” as the seller of the property during the closing process. It is the assignment that allows the seller to become an exchanger and, essentially convert an otherwise taxable sale and subsequent purchase of investment real estate into a tax-deferred exchange.
Because the intermediary is technically the seller who receives the sale proceeds, it prevents the exchanger from being in “actual or constructive receipt” of the proceeds; thus, there is nothing to tax.