How to Transfer Real Estate Out of S-Corp: A Step-by-Step Guide

Transferring real estate out of an S Corporation requires a thorough understanding of both tax law and corporate regulations. S corporations are closely held companies that elect to pass corporate income, losses, credits, and deductions through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes. Real estate held by an S Corporation is a capital asset which carries significant tax implications upon transfer. When owners of an S Corporation decide to move property out of the business entity, it’s critical to navigate the transaction in a way that maintains tax efficiency and complies with legal standards.

Planning the transfer of real estate out of an S Corporation involves several key steps. It’s important for shareholders to assess the most strategic method for transfer, whether it be a sale to a third party, distribution to shareholders, or other mechanisms. Each approach has different implications for the corporation’s tax position and the shareholder’s individual tax liabilities. Navigating these nuances is essential to ensure the financial health of the business and the personal interests of its owners are safeguarded.

Key Takeaways

  • Effective transfer of real estate out of an S Corp must comply with tax regulations and corporate laws.
  • Strategic planning is essential to manage the tax implications for both the S Corp and the shareholders.
  • Professional advice from tax advisors or lawyers can provide guidance for the complexities of real estate transfer.

Understanding S-Corps and Real Estate Ownership

When addressing real estate ownership through the structure of an S corporation, it is essential to recognize both the intricacies of the S-Corp status and the ramifications it has on holding and transferring property.

Definition of S Corporation and S Corp Status

An S Corporation is a type of corporation that meets specific Internal Revenue Code requirements, granting it a special tax status. This status allows the corporation to avoid double taxation by passing corporate income, losses, credits, and deductions directly to shareholders. To qualify as an S-Corp, a company must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a domestic corporation.
  • Have only allowable shareholders which include individuals, certain trusts, and estates.
  • Have no more than 100 shareholders.
  • Have only one class of stock.
  • Not be an ineligible corporation (i.e., certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations).

S Corporation Holding Real Estate: Pros and Cons

When S corporations hold real estate, there are multiple advantages and disadvantages to consider:


  • Pass-Through Taxation: Profits and losses from real estate are directly passed to shareholders, avoiding the double taxation normally incurred by C corporations.
  • Asset Protection: Shareholders’ personal assets are generally protected from creditors of the S-Corp.


  • Self-Employment Taxes: Shareholders may be subject to self-employment taxes on rental income received.
  • Rigidity in Ownership Structure: The limit on the number and type of shareholders can restrict investment and ownership opportunities.

The balance of these factors should guide shareholders when they consider S corporations for managing real estate assets.

Pre-Transfer Considerations

Before initiating the transfer of real estate out of an S Corporation, critical considerations must be undertaken to ensure compliance with tax regulations and corporate bylaws. These measures can preserve the financial interests of shareholders and the corporation.

Assessing the Real Estate’s Fair Market Value

Determining the fair market value (FMV) of the property is essential as it affects the tax basis for shareholders and influences the potential gain or loss upon transfer. An accurate assessment of the FMV provides a benchmark for both the corporation and its shareholders to gauge the economic impact of the transfer. Professional appraisals are vital in certifying the valuation’s legitimacy under scrutiny from tax authorities.

Analyzing Shareholder Agreements and Bylaws

The corporation’s bylaws and any existing shareholder agreements set forth the procedures and conditions for transferring assets. It is crucial to review these documents to identify any restrictions or procedural requirements that may impact the transfer. Shareholders must acknowledge and adhere to these agreements to prevent disputes and ensure the transfer aligns with corporate governance policies.

Tax Implications of Property Transfer

The transfer of real estate from an S Corporation can carry significant tax implications. Both the corporation and the shareholders could face diverse tax liabilities, such as recognition of gain if the property’s FMV exceeds its tax basis at the time of transfer. Crafting a tax plan before proceeding with the transfer can aid in managing potential liabilities and structuring the transaction to align with current tax law. Shareholders must be informed of the tax impact on their personal tax situations, as S Corporation distributions and adjustments to basis directly affect their individual tax returns.

Steps to Transfer Real Estate Out of an S-Corp

When transferring real estate out of an S-Corp, it’s crucial to meticulously follow legal and tax procedures to ensure compliance and minimize potential tax implications. The process involves multiple steps, from obtaining shareholder approval to properly reporting the transaction to the IRS.

Holding a Shareholder Meeting for Approval

The initial step in transferring real estate from an S-Corp involves securing the approval of the shareholders. A formal shareholder meeting should be convened where the proposed transfer of real estate is placed on the agenda. During this meeting, shareholders must be presented with all the details of the transaction including potential gains or losses and the impact on the corporation. Achieving a majority vote in favor of the transfer is essential for legal and operational compliance.

Compliance with Tax Regulations and Reporting

Transferring property out of an S-Corp triggers certain tax implications. It’s critical that the corporation complies with IRS regulations, as the transfer could result in a taxable event leading to a recognition of gain or loss on the property. The fair market value of the real estate should be assessed and reported correctly. Shareholders must be informed about the tax consequences because they could have to report any gain from the distribution on their individual tax returns, as S-Corps are pass-through entities for tax purposes.

Executing the Deed Transfer

The final physical step in the process is executing the deed transfer. This involves preparing and signing a deed that transfers the real estate from the S-Corp to the new owner, which may be an individual or another entity. This deed must be filed with the appropriate government office, such as the county recorder, to legally effectuate the transfer. The specific type of deed required may vary depending on state law and the particular details of the transaction. Proper execution of this step is vital to convey the title officially and to avoid any future disputes over property ownership.

Methods of Real Estate Transfer

Transferring real estate out of an S-Corporation requires strategic planning due to the potential tax implications and legal considerations. This section explores the primary methods shareholders and corporations can use to approach this process.

Direct Distribution to Shareholders

A direct distribution occurs when an S-Corporation distributes real estate directly to its shareholders. In this scenario, the real estate is transferred at its fair market value, which may result in gain recognition for both the corporation and the shareholders. Each shareholder’s portion of the property is based on their ownership percentage, and the distribution typically triggers a taxable event.

Sale of Real Estate to Third Party

An S-Corporation can also execute a sale of property to a third party. This method involves finding a buyer willing to purchase the property at a fair market price. The sale proceeds are then recorded on the corporation’s books, and the amount above the property’s basis is recognized as a capital gain for tax purposes. This transaction allows the corporation to liquidate the property in exchange for cash or other assets, which can then be distributed to the shareholders.

Contributing Real Estate to a Partnership or LLC

The contribution of real estate from an S-Corporation to a partnership or LLC is another method that involves transferring ownership of the property to the new entity. Shareholders of the S-Corporation become partners or members in the new entity. It’s essential to obtain a fair market value appraisal to establish the basis of the property contributed. This process may offer more flexibility in managing and controlling the property while avoiding some of the tax consequences of a direct sale or distribution.

Tax Consequences of Transferring Real Estate

When real estate is transferred out of an S Corporation, several tax consequences must be keenly considered. These include the calculation of gain or loss, capital gains tax implications, built-in gains or losses, and handling depreciation recapture, all of which impact the corporation and its shareholders.

Calculating Gain or Loss on Transfer

The gain or loss on the transfer of real estate by an S Corporation is calculated by the difference between the fair market value and the property’s adjusted basis. The adjusted basis generally comprises the cost of the property plus improvements minus any depreciation deductions taken. If the real estate sells for more than its adjusted basis, the result is a gain; if less, a loss.

Capital Gains Tax and its Implications

Capital gains tax may be incurred when the real estate is sold or transferred out of an S Corporation. The tax rate depends on how long the property was held and the applicable tax brackets of the shareholders. Long-term capital gains are typically taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income, incentivizing long-term investment.

Built-in Gains and Losses

Built-in gains refer to the appreciation in value of assets held by the S Corporation since acquisition. If the corporation sells these assets within five years after converting from C to S Corporation status, it might face built-in gains tax. The built-in gain is the excess of the fair market value over the adjusted basis of the asset at the time of the conversion.

Handling Depreciation Recapture

Upon the transfer of a depreciable real estate asset, an S Corporation may have to recapture any depreciation deductions previously taken. This depreciation recapture is taxed as ordinary income to the extent of any gain realized on the sale. Recapture rates can be higher than capital gains rates, affecting the net gain from the sale of the property.

Post-Transfer Considerations

After a business owner transfers real estate out of an S Corporation, meticulous attention must be given to updating records and ensuring regulatory compliance. This stage is as critical as the transfer process itself to maintain the corporation’s standing and avoid penalties.

Update of Business and Tax Records

Once the transfer is complete, it is vital to update all business records that reflect the corporation’s current asset holdings. This encompasses amendments to the:

  • Asset ledgers
  • Property titles
  • Shareholder agreements where necessary

In addition to business documents, tax records should reflect the disposition of the property to align with IRS requirements. The corporation’s accounting team must record the transfer in the company’s accounts and prepare the necessary documentation for tax purposes, ensuring that the capital gains or losses are accurately reported.

Continued Compliance and IRS Reporting Requirements

Maintaining compliance post-transfer involves ongoing adherence to IRS reporting requirements. For a corporation, this includes filing:

  • Form 1120S: To report income, gains, losses, and deductions
  • Schedule D: To report capital gains and losses from the sale of real estate

The business owner should also be aware of any state-specific filing obligations that arise as a result of the property transfer. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to significant consequences, including penalties and audits.

Regular reviews should be conducted to ensure that all investments and accounting practices post-transfer are in line with federal and state tax laws. This proactive approach will minimize the risk of complications with the IRS and other regulatory entities.

Estate Planning and Succession Issues

When considering the transfer of real estate from an S Corporation, estate planning and succession issues are paramount, especially as they pertain to capital gains taxes and the transition of ownership to heirs.

Impact of Transfer on Shareholder’s Estate

The transfer of real estate out of an S Corporation can have significant implications for a shareholder’s estate. One avenue is selling the property to a third party, which can provide liquidity for the estate but also may incur capital gains taxes if the property’s value has increased. This action requires careful consideration of the estate’s liquidity needs and the potential tax consequences.

Step-Up in Basis at Death

Upon the death of an S Corporation shareholder, heirs may face challenges with respect to the step-up in basis for real estate assets. The American Bar Association notes that the estate, and thus the heirs, might be unable to achieve a step-up in basis for underlying corporate assets. This could result in significant capital gains taxes should the heirs sell the property.

Planning for Ownership Succession

To optimize ownership succession of an S Corporation’s real estate assets, it is critical to develop a strategy that considers both the company’s operational continuity and the estate’s tax burdens. Trusts, for example, can be structured to ensure that S Corporation stock is properly managed during estate administration, as explained by Trustate. This is especially relevant when the ultimate goal is to pass on the company’s assets to heirs without triggering unintended tax consequences or S corporation election terminations.

Consulting Professionals

When business owners consider transferring real estate out of an S-Corporation, it is essential to engage with professionals who specialize in various aspects of the transaction. These experts provide important legal, financial, and property valuation advice to ensure the transfer is conducted effectively and with a clear understanding of the tax implications.

Engaging a Tax Attorney

A tax attorney is crucial when transferring property from an S-Corporation to ensure compliance with all tax regulations. Since real estate transactions can trigger significant tax consequences, a tax attorney will guide shareholders through the complex legal landscape. They ensure that any transfer aligns with tax laws and minimizes the shareholder’s tax liability.

Financial and Tax Planning with Accountants

Accountants, especially those with expertise in corporate finance, are integral to the process. Through financial and tax planning, accountants help business owners understand the impacts of a real estate transfer on the corporation’s financial statements and tax returns. They work to strategize the optimal timing and method of transfer from a tax perspective, considering potential capital gains taxes and other financial implications.

Real Estate and Business Valuation Experts

For the accurate determination of fair market value, shareholders should work with real estate and business valuation experts. Valuation determines the financial and tax implications of the transfer, including the assessment for a potential capital contribution if the property is transferred to shareholders. Appropriate valuation ensures the transaction is conducted at a fair price, safeguarding all parties’ interests in the process.

Throughout these consultations, professionals will assess financing options and advice on the most tax-efficient methods to move the property, always keeping the corporation’s and shareholders’ best interests in mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

Transferring real estate from an S-Corporation involves careful consideration of tax consequences and regulatory processes. These FAQs address the common issues shareholders may face.

What are the tax implications when transferring real estate from an S-Corp to an individual?

When real estate is transferred from an S-Corp to an individual, the transaction can be taxable. Shareholders may face capital gains tax based on the property’s fair market value minus their basis in the property. Consultation with a tax professional is recommended to clarify personal tax responsibilities.

Can real estate be transferred from an S-Corp to an LLC without incurring taxes, and how?

Transferring real estate from an S-Corp to an LLC may result in a tax event unless the transfer is structured as a tax-deferred contribution to the LLC. This should be carefully structured to comply with IRS regulations and may require professional advice.

What process should be followed to handle the transfer of real estate from an S-Corp after the death of the owner?

Upon the death of an owner, real estate in an S-Corp must transfer per the deceased’s estate plan or state law. An estate attorney can help navigate this process, ensuring proper steps are taken for tax filing and adherence to probate laws.

What are the considerations and steps to convert an S Corp to a partnership in relation to real estate holdings?

Converting an S-Corp to a partnership with real estate holdings requires valuation of the property, assessment of tax impacts, and redistribution of shares. The conversion process may trigger tax consequences, and a CPA or attorney should be consulted.

How to manage the liquidation distribution of property from an S-Corp?

In managing a liquidation distribution of property from an S-Corp, it is essential to determine the fair market value of the real estate and recognize any resulting gain or loss. Real estate distributions are treated as a sale, potentially incurring tax liabilities.

What are the rules and possibilities around conducting a 1031 exchange within an S-Corp?

An S-Corp can engage in a 1031 exchange, deferring the capital gains taxes on real estate by exchanging it for like-kind property. However, strict IRS rules must be followed, including time limits and the use of qualified intermediaries.

About the author

Nina Sheridan is a seasoned author at, a blog renowned for its insightful exploration of the increasingly interconnected worlds of business, technology, and lifestyle. With a keen eye for the dynamic interplay between these sectors, Nina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Her expertise lies in dissecting complex topics and presenting them in an accessible, engaging manner that resonates with a diverse audience.