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179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

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I am in a financial position that may seem somewhat unusual to you. You see, the IRS rewards me for my real estate investments by taxing me less. If, on the other hand, I keep my income in the bank, or invest it in traditional equities or bonds, the IRS shows me no mercy!

Admittedly this is by design. I am a real estate professional. One of the great benefits to that designation is that all of my passive losses flow through my personal tax returns. In other words, all that depreciation and mortgage interest I get by investing in real estate not only builds my net worth, but SAVES me money in the form of tax mitigation. Not a bad deal right?

To illustrate the power of these completely legal tax advantages, remember that with bonus depreciation even limited partners often end up with K1 losses of 50-100 percent of invested capital. Those losses add up in a hurry!

With that perspective in mind, why would I EVER consider investing in anything that is not tax advantaged? Think about the returns I would need to get in order to simply break even with the tax breaks I’m getting from investing in real estate. The returns would need to be HUGE. I’m not going to get that through Vanguard ETFs!

In fact, I truly believe that the only way I can get higher tax equivalent returns on capital is by investing in asymmetric risk type investments. For me, that means a little bit of bitcoin.

You may think I am crazy, but I actually don’t even consider investing in bitcoin all that risky. Sure it’s volatile, but I’m pretty darn sure that 5 years down the line anyone who buys bitcoin today will be pretty happy. I’m less sure about all of the alternative coins/tokens. They may have more explosive returns or they may simply go to zero. But bitcoin going to zero?—ain’t going to happen if you ask me.

Now I don’t overdo it with my bitcoin portfolio. For one, it’s important to have discipline and value add real estate is my bread and butter. In fact, I bought bitcoin with only about 5 percent of my investable assets this year. Aside from its riskier nature, buying bitcoin does not save me any money! It’s not tax advantaged.

So what’s a bitcoin HODLR to do? How about “Buy, borrow, and die”? That’s the mantra of the ultra-wealthy. The idea is that  you can borrow against most assets that you own and invest in something else. You don’t get taxed on your loan and you’ve got a way to create liquidity out of an asset that is sitting around waiting to appreciate. If you invest those borrowed funds into real estate, not only do you get the benefit of investing your capital in two places at once, but you also get the tax advantages!

You can do this with all kinds of assets. Traditionally, the wealthy have done this with brokerage accounts and other real estate but also with gold and fine art.

The good news is that these days you can even do it with bitcoin and that’s what this week’s show is all about. Zac Prince is the founder of a cutting edge company called BlockFi. BlockFi is essentially creating financial products from the cryptocurrency ecosystem including the origination of loans and even savings accounts that pay cryptocurrency in interest.

In this week’s Wealth Formula Podcast, Zac tells us all about it and gives us his take on the massive infrastructure that is creeping slowly but surely into the bitcoin ecosystem. Whether or not you buy bitcoin, you are going to want to understand what’s going on in the digital ecosystem because soon it will be part of your every day reality. Don’t miss this show!

Zac Prince is the Founder and CEO of BlockFi. Zac’s experience includes leadership roles at multiple successful tech companies. Initially in adtech, where he was a part of two successful acquisitions, Admeld (Acquired by Google) and Sociomantic (acquired by DunnHumby). Prior to starting BlockFi, he led business development teams at Orchard Platform, a broker dealer and RIA in the online lending sector, and Zibby, an online consumer lender. He graduated Cum Laude from Texas State University with a BA in International Business and minor in Spanish.

Shownotes:

  • How Zach got into Bitcoin
  • How Bitcoin became more mainstream in the last 2 years
  • What is the Halvening?
  • Why is Zach bullish on the future of blockchain?
  • Zach talks about BlockFi
  • @BlockFiZac
  • @TheRealBlockFi
  • BlockFi.com