Maximizing Tax Benefits in a 1031 Exchange in California

California, with its thriving real estate market and diverse investment opportunities, is a sought-after state for some real estate investors. However, the state’s burdensome regulations, which heavily favor tenants, have led many seasoned investors to consider moving their equity to more landlord-friendly parts of the country. One key vehicle used in this migration of real estate equity out of California is the Delaware Statutory Trust (DST). DSTs allow investors to transfer their equity to landlord-friendly states and invest in various types of assets. In this comprehensive guide, Exchange Planning Corporation provides valuable insights and expert advice on how to maximize tax benefits in a 1031 exchange in California.

Understanding When And How California Differences Affect An Exchange

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress eliminated 1031 exchanges on the Federal level for all property except real property.   While California conforms to much of Federal tax law, in this case California did not conform completely.  Individuals with less that $250,000 and couples with less than $500,000 of Adjusted Gross Income may still exchange business assets other than real property for other like-kind property.  

For some people this maybe important to understand but in the practical world this provides very little benefit.   This non-conforming issue is used so rarely we will not go deeper into how it works.  If you have a sale involving personal property that you may consider exchanging, we encourage you to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation. Our team can assess whether an exchange of your personal property may yield any benefits in California.   

Understanding the California Perspective

The notable difference when exchange a property located inside California for property in other states is that the California “clawback” provisions.  These rules are designed to ensure that if you have a profit on the sale of California property and exchange it for property located in another state, you will pay California tax if the new property is sold without further exchanges. To enforce these provisions, sellers of California property who exchange out of state must file Form 3840 annually.  

On the Form 3840 taxpayers are required to annually report the California sourced gain and its allocation to the replacement properties purchased in the exchange.  Taxpayers are required to accurately track this gain as long as they wish to keep deferring the tax.  It is conceivable that  a taxpayer could have multiple exchanges after they exit California.  Therefore, it is critical to properly track the California Sourced Gain through each exchange.  

Tracking the gain is not as simple as you may imagine.  Every time you perform another exchange the California Sourced gain maybe impacted by different factors.  If you exchanged out of California into Arizona and had taxable boot this would affect your Calfornia Sourced gain.   If later you sold the Arizona property and had either a gain or loss this could have effects on the Caliornia Sourced Gain.  

Working with a knowledgeable 1031 exchange specialist, such as Exchange Planning Corporation, is crucial in navigating the intricacies of California tax laws and regulations. Our experts stay up to date with the latest changes, ensuring that you receive accurate guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Understanding How Form 3840 effects you and your California taxes

California appears to be very concerned about collecting taxes from the sales of rental properties in California.  In the 1031 industry among clients we find that there is more worry than is necessary over this issue.  Only a very small percentage of real estate investors will be affected by these “clawback” rules.

Let’s take a quick look at who is is not affected.  If you exchange until your heirs get a step up in basis, you don’t need to worry about these rules.  Most real estate investors will swap until they drop avoiding both the California and federal taxes on real estate gains.  

If you continue to live in California and sell you are going to pay tax on your real estate gains no matter where the gains occur.  If you move to another high tax state like Hawaii or New York you will get a credit for tax paid in one state on the other state’s return.  You won’t pay additional taxes.  

While there is much noise about claw back rules in California and other states the reality is that there are very few taxpayers that will be affected by these rules.  Does that mean we can ignore the rules?  No!  We can”t predict the future.  Things like computing the correct California Source Gain should be taken seriously and everytime you exchange you will need expert guidance to prepare 3840 correctly.   


Understanding and navigating the nuances of California’s unique tax laws and regulations surrounding 1031 exchanges can seem daunting. However, with expert advice and guidance from knowledgeable specialists like those at Exchange Planning Corporation, you can efficiently maneuver these intricacies. Although the “clawback” rules may seem intimidating, they rarely impact a significant number of real estate investors. Nevertheless, careful adherence to rules, especially in situations involving multiple exchanges and shifts in residency, is essential to optimize tax benefits and ensure compliance. By meticulously tracking the California Sourced Gain and preparing Form 3840 accurately, you can confidently maximize your tax benefits while minimizing potential tax liabilities.


Q: Who will not be affected by the “clawback” rules in California’s 1031 exchanges?
A: Investors who continue to exchange until their heirs receive a step-up in basis or those who live in California and pay tax on their real estate gains, irrespective of where the gains occur, are generally not affected by these rules.

Q: What implications do multiple exchanges have on the California Sourced Gain?
A: Multiple exchanges can impact the California Sourced Gain. Factors such as taxable boot and subsequent gains or losses can alter this gain. Therefore, tracking it accurately is crucial to ensure correct tax calculations.

Q: How does Exchange Planning Corporation help navigate the complexities of 1031 exchanges in California?
A: Exchange Planning Corporation provides expert guidance tailored to your specific needs. Our knowledgeable specialists stay updated with the latest tax law changes and ensure accurate tracking of your California Sourced Gain, assisting in accurate Form 3840 preparation.

Q: How can I benefit from a 1031 exchange if I decide to move my real estate equity out of California?
A: Utilizing a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) allows investors to transfer their equity to landlord-friendly states and invest in various types of assets, maximizing tax benefits and diversifying their investment portfolio.

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