In my conversation with tax expert Jeff Hobbs, he explained a little known and little understood method that is virtually guaranteed to put money in your pocket. The method is called cost segregation, and Jeff explains what it actually is and why every investor should look into the benefits.
What is Cost Segregation?
Cost segregation is the identification of building components and reclassifying the tax life on each of those components. A building is literally broken down into all of its individual components – all the wood, studs, screws, nuts, bolts, cubic yards of concrete, square yards of carpeting, gallons of paint, etc.
Most commercial properties establish a 39-year depreciation schedule, and most residential properties establish a 26.5-year depreciation schedule. However, the IRS assigns a tax-life to each of the individual components. Most components that qualify for accelerated treatments can have their tax life reclassified to either 5, 7, or 15 years:
- 5-year tax-life components: tangible, personal property assets (carpeting, secondary lighting, process related systems, cabinetry, ceiling fans, etc.)
- 7-year tax-life components: all telecommunication related systems (cabling, telephone, etc.)
- 15-year tax-life components: land improvements (parking lots, sidewalk, curbs, landscaping, site features like a flag pole or a pond, etc.)
Why Would An Investor Use Cost Segregation?
Jeff says that the best reason to apply cost segregation is because it puts money in your pocket. For example a typical $1 million asset is going to provide the owner between $50,000 and $150,000 in federal income tax savings. If the study resulted in $80,000 in tax savings and the investor owed the IRS $80,000 in federal income tax, then that just paid 100% of the tax debt!
When Jeff engages with a client, he provides a guarantee! For properties that are sub-$500,000, he guarantees a 300% ROI (return based on cost of services). For properties that are over $500,000, he guarantees a 500% ROI. His average client ROI is 1200%. With the typical $1 million building, the $80,000 tax benefit from the example above would cost between $4000 and $7000, depending on asset size, complexity of asset, where it is located, and the documents that the client has available.
Are Cost Segregations Always Beneficial?
There are only two occasions where a cost segregation study isn’t beneficial. (1) If you are a non-profit organization or (2) you aren’t profitable. In base occasions, you aren’t paying taxes, so getting a tax savings isn’t going to do anything for you.
Everyone wants to save as much as they can on their income taxes. Therefore, at the very least, it pays to look at what the benefits can do for you. A quick Google search of “cost segregation service in (city)” is the best place to start!