The IRS has released a revenue procedure that describes temporary safe harbors for the purpose of determining the federal tax status of certain arrangements that hold real property as trusts in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Specifically, the Service has provided temporary relief to arrangements that are treated as trusts under Reg. §301.7701-4(c) which are, or have tenants who are, experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, to allow them to make certain modifications to their mortgages loans and their lease agreements, and to accept additional cash contributions without jeopardizing their tax status as grantor trusts. This revenue procedure also indicates that a cash contribution from one or more new trust interest holders to acquire a trust interest or a non-pro rata cash contribution from one or more current trust interest holders must be treated as a purchase and sale under Code Sec. 1001 of a portion of each non-contributing (or lesser contributing) trust interest holder’s proportionate interest in the trust’s assets.

This revenue procedure applies to arrangements that are trusts under Reg. §301.7701-4(c) and Rev. Rul. 2004-86, 2004-2 CB 191, and that hold real property and engage in one or more of the actions described in sections 6.02, 6.03, or 6.04 of this revenue procedure.

The IRS and the Treasury Department received comments addressing arrangements organized as trusts under Reg. §301.7701-4(c) and Rev. Rul. 2004-86 that hold rental real property. The commenters reported that many of these arrangements and their tenants are experiencing financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 emergency.

Rev. Proc. 2020-26
The IRS and the Treasury Department issued certain safe harbors in Rev. Proc. 2020-26, I.R.B. 2020-18, 753. Under the safe harbors, certain modifications of mortgage loans in connection with forbearance programs described in that guidance are not treated as replacing the unmodified obligation with a newly issued obligation, as giving rise to prohibited transactions, or as manifesting a power to vary.

In the case of mortgage loans held by real estate mortgage investment conduits (REMICs) and investment trusts, Rev. Proc. 2020-26 applies to—

  • Forbearance (and all related modifications) of a federally backed mortgage loan or a federally backed multifamily mortgage loan, if the forbearance is provided under section 4022 or 4023, respectively, of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) ( P.L. 116-136) (CARES Act Forbearances); and
  • Forbearances (and all related modifications) that are not CARES Act Forbearances, that are agreed to by the borrower of any Federally backed or non-Federally backed mortgage loan, and that are provided by a holder or servicer of the loan under a forbearance program for borrowers experiencing a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 emergency.

The forbearance programs covered are those (a) which are identical or similar to those described in section 2.07 of Rev. Proc. 2020-26; and (b) pursuant to which, between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020, inclusive, the borrower requests or agrees to the forbearance (and all related modifications).