The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December 2017 created yet another vehicle to defer capital gains for real estate investors, this time in the form of opportunity zones. This vehicle, the Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund (QOZF), is similar to 1031 exchanges, which are transactions that also allow investors to defer capital gains on real estate holdings at the time of disposal. However, QOZFs present to accredited investors the opportunity to defer gains realized from investments in stocks, bonds, businesses, and other alternative investment types in addition to gains realized from real estate investments.
The 90% Test is a method to validate if a QOF (Qualified Opportunity Fund) qualifies for the benefits of a QOZ (Qualified Opportunity Zone). The QOF must hold 90% of its assets in a QOZP (Qualified Opportunity Zone Property). A QOZP can be any of the following property types:
- QOZ business property (QOZBP).
- QOZ stock.
- QOZ partnership interests.
In December 2017, a U.S. congressional bipartisan effort known as the Opportunity Zone Program was added into the tax reform legislation (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017). The intent of the program is to encourage individual investors and companies to invest in specific census tracts around the US in an effort to promote economic development in low income communities.
Potential to Build Wealth, While Doing Good
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law in December 2017 amid some heated controversy. However, what quietly slipped under the radar within the Act is a new tax incentive called Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs).
Investing in a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) program is fairly straightforward. An investor takes their realized gain from an asset sale and invests it in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (“QOF”) to defer taxes on that gain. At the same time, the investor will potentially avoid capital gains on the appreciation of the Qualified Opportunity Zone Property. Another bonus is the QOF will put their funds to work in a low-income community that might be in dire need of resources. In business parlance, this represents a “win-win-win.”
Qualified Opportunity Zone Stock, or QOZ, is one of the three designated asset types collectively called Qualified Opportunity Zone Property, in which a Qualified Opportunity Fund (“QOF”) can invest.
People and businesses invest money in different property types for all sorts of reasons. From a legal standpoint, property is defined as something you own. Qualified Opportunity Funds (“QOF”) are uniquely positioned to invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone (“QOZ”) Business Property in a way that may change strategies for investors across the U.S.
Excitement about, and interest in, the new Qualified Opportunity Zone Program (OZP) is growing among investors, developers and sponsors. This program promises some exciting benefits, such as:
The term partner or partnership is one of the most overused terms in the business world today. It takes on a variety of definitions depending upon context. However, the concept of partnerships, or rather, partnership interests, are more well defined when it comes to the Qualified Opportunity Zones (“QOZ”) Program.
The key for real estate developers, fund sponsors and investors is to familiarize themselves with the Qualified Opportunity Zone Program (“OZP”) early so they can take advantage of its benefits when planning new projects. From a sponsor perspective, it is essential to ensure that their QOF is structured properly to allow investors making an investment to receive the full potential tax benefits of the QOZ program. Based upon the statute, various published articles1, and our participation in the Novogradac Opportunity Zone Working Group (a network of real estate professionals, lawyers and investors that work together to lobby solutions for incentive issues within the opportunity zone space), here are some high-level basics: