High-Rise, Multi-Family Property

High-Rise, Multi-Family Property Case Study


Acquired in 1986, this multi-family high rise rests in the heart of a major East Coast city. Frequent and significant improvements were made over the past 20 years. In 2013, a partner buyout significantly increased the depreciable basis. This prompted the client’s CPA to call to Capstan and work through a proactive tax strategy. Capstan reviewed the depreciation schedule and the step-up amount for the buyout of the 50% partner. In addition, the Capstan team reviewed the scheduled renovation plan. Many of the assets replaced over the years had been classified as capital improvements. Thus, creating significant potential for the reclassification of assets using the newly mandated Tangible Property Regulations.


The Capstan team recommended two techniques to maximize tax savings:

  • First, the 2013 ownership adjustment warranted a full Cost Segregation Study to accelerate depreciation of the now much-larger basis.
  • Second, in light of the decades of capitalized renovations, the client consider a Unit of Property (UoP) study to take advantage of the Tangible Property Regulations. There were many capitalized assets on the depreciation schedule that could be expensed based on Routine Maintenance Safe Harbor, Betterment/Adaptation/Restoration (BAR Testing), and Materiality Testing. In addition, Capstan recognized an opportunity to write off ghost assets that had long ago been removed from the property.


The client took advantage of both avenues of tax savings and is extremely pleased with the results. In the Cost Segregation Study, Capstan engineers were able to move 22% of depreciable basis from real property to personal property and land improvements, resulting in a tax savings of more than $1.4 million.

Furthermore, engineers identified and reclassified almost $500,000 worth of originally capitalized assets that were not, in fact, betterments. This allows the client to write off these assets in accordance with the new Tangible Property Regulations. The reclassification was challenging due to the large scope of the renovations, as well as the nebulous descriptions in the supplied documents. However, Capstan engineers took the time to meet with a long-term property manager. During this discovery, a full and thorough renovation history was necessary to document and support the write-offs. Consequently, maximizing the results.


At completion, Capstan issues “The Capstan Warranty,”.  This warranty provides the client with audit support. This support includes a full-service field agent level at no additional cost should the project ever be audited by the IRS.  In addition, Capstan remains available to help the client in further accelerating depreciation. Once the planned renovation is complete, we will continue to assess expense-versus-capitalization decisions.