There are many issues which landlords and tenants must negotiate in commercial leasing transactions. In the first two parts of this article, which deals with the tax treatment of important lease terms, we discussed lease inducement payments and tenant construction allowances. In this part, we will conclude our discussion of lease termination payments.
As mentioned earlier in this series of blogs, there are two types of lease termination payments: (1) payments made by the landlord to the tenant and (2) payments made by the tenant to the landlord. Part three addressed payments made by the landlord to the tenant. This final section will consider lease termination payments made by a tenant to a landlord.
There are many issues which landlords and tenants must negotiate in commercial leasing transactions. In the first two parts of this article, which deals with the tax treatment of important lease terms, we discussed lease inducement payments and tenant construction allowances. In this part, and the next, we will briefly discuss the importance of lease termination payments.
Generally, I.R.C. § 263 disallows a current deduction for amounts chargeable to capital account. The applicable Tax Regulations provide that a taxpayer must capitalize amounts paid to another party to terminate a lease of real property between the taxpayer-lessor and the lessee. However, these regulations fail to discuss whether the payment is a nondeductible capital expenditure or whether it is amortizable and, if so, for what period is it capitalized into the cost of the building?
Tenant construction allowances are a common detail in commercial real estate leases. Because landlords need tenants to fill their commercial spaces, and tenants need to customize these spaces for their business, a tenant allowance is a vital lease term which significantly pushes forward and finalizes a commercial real estate leasing transaction. An allowance must be structured accordingly to avoid undesired tax consequences.
I.R.C. § 110 provides landlords and tenants with a safe harbor which ensures that a tenant is not required to recognize income for a tenant allowance in leases which are for 15 years or less of a retail space. Otherwise, the tenant treats a tenant allowance received from the landlord as ordinary income, while depreciating assets over their useful life, typically resulting in much more income than expenses.
The relationship between commercial landlord and tenant is often fraught with complications which often arise from a failure to understand the legal consequences of some formal or informal arrangement within the landlord-tenant relationship. To understand, avoid, and, at the very least, minimize these consequences, commercial tenants and landlords should avail themselves of the experience and knowledge of a qualified tax professional.
A common arrangement between landlords and tenants is a lease inducement payment, made by or on behalf of the landlord to entice a tenant to sign a lease agreement. Lease inducement payments may be:
- moving expenses;