Q&A: IRA for passive investors

May 2014


I am 64 and retired. I was told I cannot open an IRA based on my commercial property income? Why? I pay estimated taxes. My rental income is the only source of income, other than a small pension payment.


You need to have earned income to contribute to an IRA. The amount of time you devote to managing the commercial property also should be considered. If y ou devote an extensitve amount of time toward the management and operation of the building, you might have the ability to consider yourself as an ‘active’ investor in real estate. The rules for active investors are quite different than passive investors.

For eg: if the commercial property you own is leased to a single tenant on a long-term lease, and the tenant takes care of all the issues related to the building and all you do is receive the rental checks, it would be hard to think of you as an active investor in real estate.

However, if you own a commercial building with 50 small tenants, and you devote most of your time to managing the leases, the bills for the building, repairs and cleaning operations, you could be considered an active real estate professional. You can look at Publication 925 on the IRS website for more information, but you must perform at least 750 hours of services relating to your building to be considered a real estate professional.

If you don’t qualify as a real estate professional, the IRS considers income from your biliding more like interest, dividend and other business investment income and not like a salary or other earned income.

While the IRA may benefit you slightly, we don’t see it as a determinant issue in preparing for your retirement at this time. Rather, the more important issue is looking at your investment property for ways to minimize your expenses and taxes.

For these reasons, please talk to accountant or tax professional.

Source: This question was directed to Samel Tamkin, a Chicago based real estate attorney and has been answered by him.

If realty transfer fees were eliminated in NJ!


christie image

How cool it would be if you have to sell your home and not pay Realty Transfer fees? For a home in NJ sold for $ 500,000, Seller will be slapped with $ 4,175 of transfer fees.

Realty transfer fees are the 7th largest source of revenue for New Jersey. New Jersey officials have projected that they will produce $287 million in the current state budget and $325 million in next year’s spending plan.

Christie blamed the fee on former Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, and the state Legislature that served under him. “People are leaving, and then the great gift that Gov. McGreevey and the state Legislature gave (them) was, ‘Oh yeah, you’re going to leave us? We’ll take 5,400 bucks from you on the way out the door. Thank you very much,'” Christie said. “It makes no sense.”

The Republican governor recently declared that if the Democratic controlled state Legislature were to send him a bill to eliminate the “awful” fees, he’d be glad to sign it.

The next day, state Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) announced plans to introduce a measure seeking to do exactly that.

Needless to say, it created a stir.

Against Tax abolishment:

These fees help pay beach replenishment and dune construction as well as affordable housing — two crucial issues in New Jersey that have become even more important as the state continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Dunes are the natural barrier to help people from storm surges. The governor is pandering to the anti-tax right and doesn’t realize there are consequences.

Christie didn’t say at the town hall how the state would make up the lost money if the transfer fee were abolished, State could cut from elsewhere in the budget to pay for shore protection. That means something else would not be funded!

For Tax abolishment:

Fees were nominal until 2004 when former Gov. Jim McGreevy, a Democrat, and the state Legislature increased them in back-to-back years. However, at that time, housing market was booming. Everyone was seeing their homes worth a lot more than when they were bought then no one got too upset about the fee. However, in current times, when equity is less, its hard to see State tax a chunk of it. Even homeowners whose properties are foreclosed are not spared.


What is your opinion/suggestion? Please feel free to share with us.