As the real estate market has cooled off in many parts of the country, investing in property may seem wise in the long run. But taxes can be a significant concern.
Owning real estate in a C corporation may not be wise when considering taxes because it puts you at risk of being double-taxed.
This means that if you sell the property and make a profit, the gain may be subject to taxation
twice—once at the corporate level and again at the shareholder level when the corporation pays out profits to shareholders as dividends.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the double taxation threat, but with our current federal debt, you face the risk that lawmakers will hike the corporate tax rates and possibly also tax dividends at higher ordinary income rates.
To avoid this threat, I usually recommend using a single-member LLC or revocable trust to hold real property. A disregarded single-member LLC delivers super-simple tax treatment combined with corporation-like liability protection, while a revocable trust can avoid probate and save time and money.
If you are a co-owner of real property, it is advisable to set up a multi-member LLC to hold the property. The partnership taxation rules that multi-member LLCs follow have several advantages, including pass-through taxation.
In conclusion, holding real property in a C corporation can expose you to the risk of double
taxation, and I don’t recommend it. Instead, consider a single-member LLC, revocable trust, or multi- member LLC, depending on your situation.