OZ: NY moves to reduce certain state Opportunity Zone benefits for NY deals – Smart, Necessary or Something Else?

New York legislators have moved forward in their 2021 budget process to limit some of the state Opportunity Zone benefits that had previously applied in New York. Some commentators have pointed to the budget process reduction of benefits as a “left wing” reaction to former President Trump’s support of the federal OZ program (which applies in all 50 states and the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). Others have stated that it is a necessary move to reduce benefits for deals that should not be receiving federal and state benefits.

If the budget is approved, and the provisions become operative, New York will no longer offer some of the state tax benefits to real estate investors funding Opportunity Zone projects in New York, placing New York deals at a disadvantage to New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio and other adjacent states that have approved and will retain their state benefits.

The OZ program is a Federal program that was enacted in 2017 and which became operative in 2018.  Governors of all 50 states, including New York, were asked to review census data provided by the federal government which focused the Opportunity Zone program on low income areas throughout the US as identified in HUD census data from 2010. The Governors of all 50 states were then given 3 months to choose from within the potential applicable opportunity zones in their state which zones should become Opportunity Zones.  Thereafter, once these zones were selected by the various governors, they were sent to Treasury for final approval, all of which selected zones were ultimately approved.

This process occurred during early 2018.  Thereafter, the majority of states also “followed form” and permitted zones that the states had previously selected to be OZs to also be eligible for state benefits which would be the same as the federal benefits that existed under the program (i.e., (1) deferral of capital gains until 12-31-2026 (the “Deferral Benefit“); (2) potential reduction of the amount that is subject to tax by 15% if gain eligible dollars were invested into a qualified opportunity zone fund in 2018 or 2019, or 10% if gain eligible dollars were invested into a qualified opportunity zone fund in 2020 or 2021 (the “Reduction Benefit“); and, (3) if the investor followed the rules of the OZ Program and invested an amount of gain eligible dollars into a QOF (the “fund”) and left its investment in the QOF for 10 years or more, and, thereafter the QOF sold the property or the business it owned after the 10 year period but before 12-31-2047, then all gain on the sale of the business or real estate would NOT be subject to federal capital gains tax (the “Exclusion Benefit”).  By electing to follow form, the states that did so, elected to have the Deferral Benefit, the Reduction Benefit and the Exclusion Benefit also apply at the state level on gains that would have otherwise been payable to the state; meaning the applicable states would also permit investments in their applicable OZ areas to obtain a state level Deferral Benefit, Reduction Benefit and the Exclusion Benefit.

New York, like all of its adjacent neighboring states, was one of the states that enacted legislation to incent Opportunity Zone investments by permitted such OZ benefits at the state level (i.e., the Deferral Benefit, the Reduction Benefit and the Exclusion Benefit at the New York level).

Under the 2021 New York budget proposal, the New York Deferral Benefit and the New York Reduction Benefits at the New York level would NO LONGER be applicable.  The result of this change is that investors in New York businesses in the New York OZs and in real estate in the New York OZ, will no longer receive the same benefits as neighboring states, which could result in investors looking at these other adjacent states first or in a more meaningful way, given that the state level OZ incentives exist there rather than in New York.

While some commentators have stated this will “deal[] another blow to the program and developers taking advantage of it”, my personal view is that the benefits being eliminated in the budget process (i.e., deferral of capital gains payments until 12-31-2026 and reduction of the amount subject to tax by 10% if investment was made in 2020 or 2021), are not the real driver of the OZ program and the massive amount of investment that has occurred in the low and moderate income opportunity zones nationally since the enactment of the OZ program – rather, it is the Exclusion Benefit, which is NOT being eliminated in New York, that is the main driver of behavior in the OZs.

Even with the New York budget modifications, New York’s 514 census tracts included in the program will still qualify for federal tax incentives for investing in these distressed areas and the New York Exclusion Benefit will still apply.

Follow The Yellow Brick Road:  So, has New York cut off its nose to spite its face?  Slightly, as some investors who are seeking both federal and state benefits to justify a more difficult project will likely look elsewhere.  That said, the real driver of transactions in the OZ space as noted above is the Exclusion Benefit which applies once one has been invested in the applicable opportunity zone for 10 years or more, and this benefit, notwithstanding the New York change, will still exist at BOTH the federal and New York state level.  On balance, while the budget change sounds like a big move and strikes a blow for anti-Trump sentiment, in reality, the real opportunity of the OZ program in hopefully creating jobs for local residents will remain and the Exclusion Benefit driver will remain in tact and continue to provide a reinforcer for this type of behavior.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using tax credit equity and standard equity. We have closed over 73 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 33 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, Anastasios Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Take care and stay safe.

OZ: Bi-Partisan Legislation introduced to extend OZ investment period to 2028

Who says our Congress is not interested in bi-partisan legislation?

U.S. Representatives Tim Burchett (TN-02) and Henry Cuellar (TX-28) introduced a bi-partisan piece of legislation entitled the Opportunity Zone Extension Act of 2021. This bipartisan legislation would extend the Opportunity Zones program until the end of 2028.

“The Opportunity Zones program was making a difference in East Tennessee communities and underserved areas around the country before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked our economy,” Rep. Burchett said. “Extending this program would give investors additional time to provide meaningful financial support to businesses and create quality, good paying jobs in Opportunity Zones.”

According to Congressman Henry Cuellar. “This critical legislation will help stimulate economic growth, job creation, and provide support to underdeveloped communities. Through this legislation we will be able to help accelerate our economy’s recovery from the pandemic. I am committed to making sure everyone has access to opportunity and can achieve the American dream.”

Currently, the Opportunity Zones program allows participating investors to defer taxes on capital gains that are invested in designated Opportunity Zones until the end of 2026. Rep. Burchett’s and Rep. Cuellar’s bill would extend this date and allows capital gains to be deferred until the end of 2028.

Opportunity Zones are located in economically distressed areas across the United States.

According to the sponsors, extending the Opportunity Zones program by 2 years is intended to attract private sector investment in underserved communities, building on pre-pandemic success and helping them come back stronger than before.

While it is too early to tell if this piece of OZ extension legislation is likely to get any legs given the current pressures on Congress, its bi-partisan support puts it in good stead for future conversation and, potentially for action, once Congress deals with the current Covid bill and likely an infrastructure bill.  We will keep our eyes and ears open and report back on developments on this front.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using tax credit equity and standard equity. We have closed over 63 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 33 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, Anastasios Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Take care and stay safe.  

IRS Extends Various Opportunity Zone Deadlines to March 31, 2021 given COVID-19

Taxpayers who recognized a capital gain in 2020 may have until March 31, 2021 to invest in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund (“QOF”), according to a new notice issued by the IRS last week.

On January 20, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-10, which provided additional relief to taxpayers by postponing certain due dates to March 31, 2021.

Under Section 1400Z-2 of the Code, taxpayers normally have 180 days to invest capital gains in a QOF to be eligible for Opportunity Zone tax treatment.

One of the deadlines postponed by a previous relief notice was a taxpayer’s 180-day deadline for investing capital gain eligible dollars into a QOF.  For any 180-day period that ended on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020, the deadline was initially extended to July 15, 2020. Thereafter, under IRS Notice 2020-39 further relief for QOFs was granted to allow any 180-day period that ended on or after April 1, 2020 and before December 31, 2020, to be extended to December 31, 2020.

With their latest Notice, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS again extended various deadlines again for QOFs and their investors to March 31, 2021.

In practical terms for an individual taxpayer, for any gain recognized on or after April 1, 2020 and before March 31, 2021, effectively, there is no 180-day period, rather, a March 31, 2021 deadline applies to invest their gain in a QOF. As such, the new IRS notice, gives some investors with 2020 capital gains (i.e., those with gains from April 1, 2020 to October 2, 2020) more time than originally anticipated for investment in OZs. For any gain recognized on or after October 2, 2020, the standard 180-day period will once again apply.

Other relief provided in the new notice applies to Qualified Opportunity Fund compliance deadlines, including extensions for complying with the 90% investment standard, the 30-month substantial improvement period, the 31 month working capital safe harbor, and the 12-month reinvestment period.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using tax credit equity and standard equity. We have closed over 61 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 38 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, Anastasios Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Take care and stay safe.  

New Markets Tax Credits and Opportunity Zones – Bill Proposed in the US Senate to make NMTC Permanent and prioritize grant funding in OZs

Earlier this week, 4 Senators introduced legislation that would make the new markets tax credit (NMTC) permanent and would seek to encourage further investment in opportunity zones (OZs).

Senators Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, and Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, cosponsored the Economic Empowerment for Underserved Communities Act.

The bill, a summary of which is attached, makes the NMTC permanent with a $5 Billion annual allocation adjusted for inflation.

Per Novogradac and the Senator’s office announcement, the legislation also encourages investment in Opportunity Zones (“OZs) by establishing representatives to facilitate participation in the OZ program, prioritizes grant assistance in OZs through the Health Resource and Services Administration, allocates $7 Billion to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), establishes a Small Business Investment Company facility to enhance access to venture capital for underserved groups and businesses affected by COVID-19, and extends Small Business Administration debt relief provisions from the CARES Act.

The NMTC is authorized only through the calendar-year 2020 round. 

Senator Loeffler’s office released a summary of the bill.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using tax credit equity and standard equity. We have closed over 61 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 38 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners. We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, Anastasios Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

New Markets Tax Credits – Expansion and Extension of $3.5 Billion proposed over the next 4 years – WOW!

Earlier this week on December 14, 2020, Reps. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, and Tom Reed, R-New York, introduced legislation to extend and increase the new markets tax credit (NMTC).

The New Markets Stabilization Act would increase the NMTC allocation by $3.5 billion over four years, allow investors to carry back those credits for five years, exempt the NMTC from the 75% general business credit limitation, permanently exempt the NMTC from the alternative minimum tax and provide relief from certain debt modification rules for NMTC issuers and borrowers.

Per Novogradac, Sewell and Reed previously introduced legislation to make the NMTC permanent.

The NMTC expires at the end of this year, although the calendar-year 2020 round will be allocated next summer.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using tax credit equity and standard equity. We have closed over 61 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 38 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, AK Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

New Markets Tax Credits – Record Number of 2020 Applications; $5B in credits to be awarded

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced earlier this week that it received 208 applications under the calendar year (CY) 2020 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program).

Per Treasury, the NMTC Program advances economic development in economically distressed communities by making tax credit allocations available to Community Development Entities (CDEs) for targeted investments in eligible areas.

The CDEs that applied under the CY 2020 round are headquartered in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These applicants requested an aggregate total of $15.1 billion in NMTC allocation authority, over 3x the $5.0 billion in authority available for the 2020 round.

Created by Congress in December of 2000, the NMTC Program permits individual and corporate taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making qualified equity investments in CDEs. The investor is provided a tax credit that equals 39% of the cost of the investment and is claimed over a seven-year period. Substantially all of the taxpayer’s investment must be used by the CDE to make qualified investments in low-income communities.

According to Treasury statistics, through the first 16 rounds of the NMTC Program, the CDFI Fund has made 1,254 awards totaling $61 billion in tax credit allocation authority. This $61 billion includes $3 billion in Recovery Act Awards and $1 billion of special allocation authority to be used for the recovery and redevelopment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone.

Duane Morris has an active Tax Credits and Opportunity Zone Team to help CDCs and other organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in typical deals as well as Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have closed over 61 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 38 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Art Momjian, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, AK Kastrinakis, or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

PSEG invests in a 25% interest of Ocean Wind – the $1.7B Wind Project off the NJ Coast

Public Service Enterprise Group announced earlier today, Friday, December 4, 2020, that it will invest in a 25% share of Ocean Wind, the $1.7 billion, 1,100-megawatt wind energy project off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Ocean Wind is owned by Ørsted North America, and is anticipated to provide 500,000 households with energy when operational.

It’s the first of three tranches of 7,500 megawatts in offshore wind the Murphy administration is aiming to have in the state’s energy capacity by 2050.

The operation and maintenance of the Ocean Wind facility is expected to create over 65  full-time jobs during the 25-year lifecycle of the project, according to Gabriel Martinez, a spokesperson for Ørsted.

In June, according to NJBIZ, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a 200-acre “wind port” in Salem County on the Delaware Bay, where the wind turbines will be produced and shipped out across the Jersey Shore.

The facility will be located in Lower Alloway Creek Township, adjacent to PSEG’s Hope Creek Nuclear Generation Station – at a facility PSEG already owns.  The site is within a mile of a designated federal Opportunity Zone and could spur some additional development within the nearby zone.

Duane Morris has an active Opportunity Zone Team to help CDCs and other organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have closed over 45 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 54 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, AK Kastrinakis, Art Momjian or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Treasury awards $204.1M in CDFI Funds to Low Income Native American Communities

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced and awarded 397 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) $204.1 million in awards.

The awards, through the fiscal year (FY) 2020 round of the Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program), will enable CDFIs to increase lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed communities across the nation.

“I am proud to announce the fiscal year 2020 CDFI Program and NACA Program Award Recipients,” said CDFI Fund Director Jodie Harris. “These organizations are providing vital economic development and financial services to neighborhoods, businesses, and families. I am especially proud that we have 91 new organizations receiving awards this year, expanding the opportunity of this program to even more communities across the country.”

The CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of CDFIs to serve low-income people and communities lacking adequate access to affordable financial products and services.

For the FY 2020 CDFI Program round, the CDFI Fund awarded $142.8 million in Base-Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance awards to 357 organizations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition to the Base-Financial Assistance awards, the CDFI Fund will also provide the following supplemental Financial Assistance awards:

• $22 million to 13 CDFIs through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative-Financial Assistance (HFFI-FA) awards, a supplemental program designed to encourage investments in businesses that provide healthy food options for communities;

• $4 million to 17 CDFIs through the Disability Funds-Financial Assistance (DF-FA) awards, a supplemental program designed to help CDFIs finance projects and services that will assist individuals with disabilities; and

• $18.5 million to 106 CDFIs through the Persistent Poverty Counties-Financial Assistance (PPC-FA) awards, which is a supplemental program designed to encourage investments in Persistent Poverty Counties nationwide.

The NACA Program facilitates the creation and advancement of Native CDFIs, which are Certified CDFIs that must predominantly serve Native American, Alaska Native, and/or Native Hawaiian communities. A diversity of institutions in various stages of development are supported by the NACA Program, including: organizations in the early planning stages of CDFI formation; tribal entities working to certify an existing lending program; and established Native CDFIs in need of further capacity building assistance.

Per Treasury’s press release, the CDFI Fund awarded $15.2 million in FY 2020 NACA Program Base-Financial Assistance and Technical Assistance awards to 40 organizations in 18 states. In addition, the CDFI Fund awarded $1.6 million in NACA Program PPC-FA awards to 11 Native CDFIs.

Duane Morris has an active Opportunity Zone Team to help CDCs and other organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones and low income areas throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have closed over 45 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 54 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, AK Kastrinakis, Art Momjian or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

 

Bill to require the SBA to train Field Representatives regarding Opportunity Zones and OZ Benefits introduced in the House

Reps. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., and William Timmons, R-S.C., introduced the Increasing Opportunities for Small Businesses Act of 2020 (H.R. 8120).

According to Novogradac, the Bill would require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to train representatives on the opportunity zones (OZ) incentive. Trained field representatives would serve as a point of contact for OZ questions and resources, educate elected leaders within their areas and hold an annual seminar in each state to educate managers of qualified opportunity funds, qualified opportunity zone businesses, state and local government officials and other interested persons on how to benefit from OZ investments.

The director of each SBA regional office would be required to submit an annual report on the success of trained field representatives, including any problems and best practices.

Continued positive steps by the House and the White House on directing various federal agencies to prioritize resource allocations and program dollars to help low income areas in various OZs throughout the US, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Duane Morris has an active Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have closed over 45 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 54 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, Keli Isaacson Whitlock, AK Kastrinakis, Art Momjian or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.

Federal GSA prioritizes Opportunity Zones for Owned and Leased Assets – Wow!

On Tuesday, August 25, 2020, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) announced that it will increase its investment in opportunity zones with owned and leased federal buildings, following an executive order that President Donald Trump signed Monday.

The order directed the GSA to prioritize opportunity zones and other distressed communities in federal agency moves to help bring new economic activity to the neighborhoods and to save taxpayer money by occupying more affordable real estate.

“We are excited to now officially include qualified Opportunity Zones in the list of priorities we formally assess when selecting sites,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a release. “Yesterday’s Executive Order is consistent with GSA’s long term role in spurring economic development within the communities where our buildings are located.”

The GSA owns or leases 376.9 Million Square feet in 9,600 buildings in over 2,200 communities. As the GSA is the largest owner and user of space in the US by far, this is a very significant development in OZ world.

The opportunity zone program was passed into law in 2018 as a way to incentivize investors to place their equity investments into underserved communities. According to BisNow, beyond using the government’s real estate footprint, the Trump administration has sought to support the opportunity zone program through other methods. The Department of Education last week launched a grant program to help institutions of higher education recover from the coronavirus crisis, and it gives priority to applicants who expand educational access to students in opportunity zones.

Duane Morris has an active Opportunity Zone Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and invest in Opportunity Zones throughout the USA, including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We have closed over 45 OZ deals since their inception and are actively working on over 54 OZ projects for owner/developers, investors and business owners.  We would be happy to discussion your proposed project with you.  Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact Brad A. Molotsky, Scott Gluck, Lee Potter, AK Kastrinakis, Art Momjian or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Be well and stay safe.