As the tax season begins, it’s a good time to remind you and your clients that relocation payments from federal funded projects that use eminent domain to acquire private property are not considered income, and acquisition payments are treated as a capital gain, which can be deferred by a 1033 exchange.
The Federal Uniform Relocation and Acquisition Act (URA) states that relocation payments are not considered income on a federally funded project. My clients and their tax preparers frequently report weak support regarding this URA statement. Because this frequently causes inconsistent treatment of payments by tax preparers, I’ve been prompted to research the issue, not as a tax person but as a relocation consultant, in order to find support for the tax preparer when dealing with relocation payments, and to assist my clients with relocation planning decisions.
Once it is understood how to handle the relocation payments, sometimes the next hurdle is to identify relocation payments or separate relocation payments from acquisition payments. This dilemma can occur when a dispute resolution process or trial is used to settle a case where fixtures are included, or when a case is a combination of acquisition and relocation issues. These processes often lump things together making it difficult to identify whether the resulting payment was part of relocation or acquisition. They can also inadvertently limit ongoing relocation benefits.
If you are in the process of preparing for a dispute resolution or trial, I can assist you by preparing language to include in a settlement agreement, preparing clarifying check-sheets, and providing other materials to help identify relocation payments. I can also assist you with preserving rights to ongoing relocation benefits.