While the coronavirus crisis is threatening to wipe out many businesses—and maybe even send the economy into a recession—entrepreneur Peter J. Burns III says there’s a widely underutilized method for increasing tax savings that could greatly boost stimulus efforts.
That method is known as cost segregation. It’s a 100-percent legal process guided by IRS methodology. The IRS publishes guidelines for a cost segregation study on its website.
“We’re looking at an unprecedented devaluation of companies and their properties,” says Peter J. Burns III, a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last 40-plus years helping create more than 150 companies in both conventional and nontraditional markets.
He says cost segregation is a way for companies to get money back in taxes that they’ve already overpaid. Burns believes this process is a quicker and more efficient way to stimulate the economy than relying on aid packages from the federal government.
“Even if companies have already paid their taxes this year, they can do amended returns and get back money they’ve already overspent,” Peter J. Burns III says. “This process is a much quicker way to try to avoid what is looking like an inevitable depression.”
What is Cost Segregation?
Cost segregation is a method of reclassifying components and improvements of commercial and residential real estate. Using Internal Revenue Service guidelines, cost segregation results in reduced tax liabilities and increased cash flow—for both owners and lessees.
To initiate cost segregation, a third-party-certified study identifies, values and separates depreciable personal property. A certified analyst will appraise non-structural items (things like carpet, wall coverings, etc.) and adjust the scheduled depreciation.
The result? Acceleration of depreciation can lead to huge tax savings in the early years of the life cycle of a real estate property. This allows a property owner to catch up on savings that result from the depreciation adjustment.
It’s relatively simple. Under standard, straight-line depreciation, the default tax life on a commercial building is 39 years. Cost segregation professionals seek to identify the multiple pieces of personal property that can be placed on shorter—five-, seven- or 15-year—depreciation terms.
According to studies commissioned by Peter J. Burns III, doing a third-party-certified study for cost segregation usually result in 6 percent of the value of a building coming back in tax benefits. In one study, an $8-million rental villa returned $625,000 to the owner after cost segregation.
Cost segregation is a 100-percent legal process guided by IRS methodology. IRS guidelines allow this technique to be applied to newly built and existing buildings. However, the building must have been placed in service after 1987.
The number of years owned by the current owner, prior renovations, and future renovation plans are some of the considerations used to determine whether a cost segregation study makes economic sense.
The technique has been widely used since 1997 as a result of two landmark tax court cases in which both Walgreens and Hospital Corp. of America prevailed against the IRS. Traditionally, engineering departments in Big Four CPA firms have used cost segregation with their large clients.
The modern application of cost segregation can be traced to those 1997 court cases—but it was Peter J. Burns III, who was serving as an adjunct faculty member at the Barrett Honor College at Arizona State University, who first tied the practice to other business ventures in 2005.
Cost Segregation is a Simple Process
It’s estimated there are 91 million buildings eligible for a cost segregation study. Yet, only five percent have undergone the process. According to Peter J. Burns III, that means there’s potentially as much as $500 billion on the table to help out struggling businesses.
That’s roughly equivalent to the stimulus plan approved by the federal government.
Cost segregation is actually a simple transaction. If you’d like to find out more about this innovative process that could help rescue American businesses, reach out to Peter J. Burns III, who can help match prospective donors with qualified cost segregation professionals.