Tag Archives: low income areas

From the Land of OZ – States continue to add benefits to their OZ sites!

Good morning from the Land of OZ, it’s been a busy and interesting start to the new week with conversations about deals in all kinds of neat places – from Philly to Orlando, Ohio to Pennsylvania, the NJ shore to California and even to Alaska where I had a lovely chat with a business owner with capital gains yesterday who wanted to discuss how best to create a QOF. Fun stuff and the hectic pace of play continues – meaning, there is a lot going on despite what you may read elsewhere.

According to Novogradac, over $7.57 Billion dollars has been raised in QOFs in the funds they track (513 funds- 308 of which have raised equity) and these funds will be used to build and rehab buildings and businesses with an goal of $68.75 Billion of investment capacity.

State Updates:

Connecticut – Workforce Housing and OZs – Legislation that was recently introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly would expand the state’s workforce housing tax credit program to include properties in opportunity zones (OZs) and would change definitions for workforce housing in other parts of the state. S.B. 184 would add properties in OZs to the definition of “eligible workforce housing development projects.” According to Novogradac, the bill would also redefine workforce housing as a property where 10% of units are for low-income renters, 40% are available at 20% of the area’s prevailing rent, and the remainder are available at market rate. The legislation would double the statewide annual cap for the workforce housing tax credit to $20 Million.

Utah – HB 299 has been approved by the House in Utah. It enables added incentives for electric vehicle charging stations in Opportunity Zones, provides priority of review of OZ projects, allows for low income housing tax credits to be issued to projects in Utah OZs, provides preference for qualified opportunity zone. The bill also allows for 25% tax credits for certain parking lot construction projects located in OZs located within Utah.

Wisconsin – A bill to conform Wisconsin’s tax code to the federal Internal Revenue Code concerning opportunity zones (OZs) and to double the exclusion for capital gains invested in Wisconsin-based OZs passed the state Senate and is on the desk of Gov. Tony Evers for approval according to Novogradac. AB 532 would allow an additional 10% capital gains tax reduction for investors who hold investments in a Wisconsin-centered qualified opportunity fund (QOF) – defined as a QOF that holds at least 90% of its assets in Wisconsin OZ projects for 5 years and an additional 15% reduction for investors who hold their investment for 7 years.

Miscellaneous – we are hosting our monthly OZ webinar on March 4th at 1 pm EST. Guests for this upcoming month are Jill Homan of Javelin Investments and James Solomon of Ravinia Capital and we will be focusing on the OZ deals they have funded and what they are looking at and seeing in the OZ space. If interested, drop me an email and happy to have you join us.

Around on line if you want to discuss anything OZ or otherwise. Best regards – Brad

From the Land of OZ – Federal and State Updates and some annoying news from the IRS on the 70% Test

A quick thank you shout out to Craig Bernstein of OPZ Bernstein for being my guest on this month’s webinar installment of “From the Land of OZ”, our monthly Duane Morris Opportunity Zones webinar. If of interest, it is on tape and you can listen in at your convenience – we discussed the final regulations, fund deployment, fund creation and social impact investing.

First, the annoying News From the IRS involving QOZBs and the 70% test – prior to last week there was no written (or spoken) prohibitions on cash from a QOF being placed into a QOZB per a working capital plan counting for the 70% test at the QOZB level. As such, it was widely accepted by tax practitioners that cash in the QOZB bank account on the applicable testing date would be eligible to count for the 70% test. That is, until last week when an IRS official advised the working group at the RE Roundtable that cash that is not invested yet in the QOZB in real property or in a business does NOT count for the 70% test.

As such, please be very careful when planning for and dealing with the 70% test to make sure that the cash that ends up in that account is invested and actually buys inventory or good or materials that will be used in the business or real estate on or before the testing date.

Again, this is very new news and came out late last week from the IRS and you will NOT find it in writing anywhere. We will be confirming this in writing but, for the moment, I would assume this is the direction the IRS intends to go even though it’s not in writing anywhere in the regs.

In separate news, thanks to our pal Emily Lavery (rockstar policy person working with Senator Scott):

On the State level:

• In Colorado, a Montrose, CO-based co-working software company, received its third OZ investment through funding from the Center on Rural Innovation’s Innovation Fund, an Opportunity Fund that invests in high-growth technology companies supporting job creation and revenue generation in rural communities. (EIG). Nice!

• In Georgia, Vision unveiled for West End Mall’s rebirth as mixed-use ‘opportunity zone’: West End’s aging mall will be redeveloped into a bustling hub of offices, hotel rooms, and affordable housing that would set a national example for how federal opportunity zones could prosper is moving forward was unveiled, and investors with clout are buying in, according to project leaders. #Visionary

• In California, Catalyst Opportunity Funds Invests in SoLa Impact Opportunity Zone Projects to Reenergize South Los Angeles Communities. The SoLa projects aim to revitalize underserved LA neighborhoods such as Compton, Watts and South Central through real estate development, with additional services like job training, financial literacy, and homelessness prevention. #impactinvesting

• Also in California, a $250 Million Senior Living Facility is in the Works thanks to OZ’s: The facility will be outfitted with 52 assisted living units and 32 memory care units. It will be the first senior living community built in San Jose in 35 years. #seniorliving

• In Florida, an old Sears and mall property will become an “Innovation Community”: The project will have a focus on academic, scientific and technology uses thanks to Opportunity Zones. Preliminary plans for the former Sears store includes up to one million square feet of new office space; capacity for up to 400 hotel rooms, 1,000 apartment units and 100,000 square feet of street-level restaurants, shops, fitness and experiential concepts. #adaptivereuse

• In Rhode Island, Opportunity Zones will Give Rise to Largest Economic Development Project in Pawtucket’s History. This $400 million economic development project will transform Pawtucket’s riverfront with extensive development, including a new United Soccer League (USL) Championship soccer team and stadium. The state’s Democratic Governor, Gina Raimondo, was thrilled to see a $400M economic development project that will transform Pawtucket’s riverfront with extensive development, including a new United Soccer League (USL) Championship soccer team and stadium – all made possible because of Opportunity Zones. This project will add more than $130 million annually to the state’s GDP, and create more than 3,500 jobs. The Tidewater Landing project will include key infrastructure upgrades, a new multi-use stadium, a new indoor sports complex, market-rate and workforce housing, a hotel, and commercial office space. #OZSoccer #$400M

• In Kentucky, a $22.5M renovation coming to former YMCA building in Covington, KY: The former YMCA building and Gateway Bookstore in Covington, Kentucky have sat vacant since 2015. Now, with the help of Opportunity Zone financing, the two historic buildings will undergo a $22.5 million renovation. The mixed-use project, which expects to create over 100 new jobs, will include office space, 60 hotel units from the nearby Hotel Covington, and will serve as a northern trailhead for the Kentucky bourbon industry. #YMCAOZ

• In Alabama, the City of Opelika announced a new 105-acre Innovation and Technology Park to be built in an Opportunity Zone. the OTIP has Easy access to East Alabama Medical Center, Tiger Town, Historic Downtown Opelika, Southern State Community College and Auburn University. “Opelika has been incredibly proactive about harnessing the power of its Opportunity Zone. Its vision for building a place where innovation and technology can co-exist matches perfectly with the spirit of the Opportunity Zone incentive, which facilitates investment in both buildings and the companies that occupy them,” said Alexander Flachsbart, CEO of Opportunity Alabama. #RollTide

On the Federal Level:

• Treasury has FINALIZED the 2019 versions of OZ tax forms! This includes form 8996 (funds) and the new form 8997 (investors) for the 2019 tax year.

• the Opportunity Zone Catalyst Grand Prize winners of the of the Forbes OZ 20 were announced at Sorenson Impact Center’s Winter Innovation Summit in Salt Lake City, UT. The City of Erie and Opportunity Alabama emerged as the top two Community Organizations. The SoLa Impact Fund and Four Points Funding were named the top two Opportunity Zone Funds.

• Recently, Novogradac has reported that the 513 Qualified Opportunity Funds they are tracking now represent $68.75 billion in community development investment capacity. Novogradac is also now reporting that the 308 funds reporting equity raised, are now reporting a total $7.57 billion in equity raised! That’s near a one billion dollar increase over the last month and a ~50% increase since December. However, per Emily, as Tax Notes recently noted, these numbers may just be the tip of the iceberg. “Most of our transactions and most of the money we’re seeing flow through these qualified Opportunity Zones is through proprietary or private funds — funds that would not be reporting to any of these fund listing agencies or databases.

Over and out from the Land of OZ – if you have questions, comments, thoughts or want to appear on our monthly webinar – please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience – email finds me fastest – bamolotsky@duanemorris.com. Have a super weekend.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq., Duane Morris, LLP

From the Land of OZ: Menino Survey of Mayors 2019 – OZ Observations Unveiled!

According to Boston University – Initiative on Cities – affectionately referred to as the Menino Survey – “Mayors generally believe the new federal Opportunity Zones program has targeted the right areas, nationally and in their own communities.

Community government is starting to take the lead in organizing their communities to take advantage of their tract designations and are confident in their ability to capitalize on the program. Mayors believe dedicated senior staff and an Opportunity Zone Investment program will be a key factor in making a census tract attractive and interesting.

– Roughly three quarters of cities in the survey sample had eligible census tracts, and two-thirds now have at least one designated opportunity zone, with an average of six per city

– 51% of mayors believe the Opportunity Zone program has effectively targeted areas of true economic need nationally

– 29% are unsure, suggesting a large minority are unaware or not yet confident the program is working as intended. [Figure 28]

– 65% of mayors agree that the tracts selected by their governor were either based on their own advice, or are comparable to what the mayor would have picked if they had been given the choice. [Figure 29]

– Mayors generally believe (79% of Democratic Mayors and 65% of Republican Mayors) that designations were driven by a desire on the part of governors to spread them across the state, and were responsive to mayors’ input. [Figure 33]

– Generally their degree of satisfaction with their own designations does not vary substantially by city size, partisanship of the mayor, or affluence of the community. [Figures 31-32]

– Mayors are generally NOT concerned that the program will lead to gentrification or residential displacement, including those leading more expensive cities, or that limited funds will ultimately be invested in their OZs. [Figure 35]

More than 50% believe the OZ program will have a large and positive impact on their local economy, with the greatest benefits conferred on outside investors but that small businesses and residents currently located in the zones will also greatly benefit. [Figures 36 and 39]

– The vast majority (75%) of mayors believe they have the capacity and power to maximize the benefits of their zones. Mayors believe the main mechanisms to maximize the benefits are: dedicated senior staff in city hall (54%) and an Opportunity Zone Investment brochure that outlines their community’s priorities and specific opportunities and assets (50%) and 34% believe supplemental monetary incentives will also be important. [Figures 37 and 41]

– 71% say the economic development director or city administrator is taking the lead in organizing the community to capitalize on the designations. [Figure 42]

– When it comes to their own role, 43% of mayors believe their job is to serve as an advocate for their city and its zones, and promote them to investors. [Figure 43]

Some very interesting numbers at a time when some national publications are saying the program is not working. While some zones may not be in the right spot or more difficult to develop or in the path of development already, they all needed to be part of the 2010 HUD census data for low income areas. Worth taking a read of the survey if you have the time and interest. Good stuff in there – well done BU!

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or my colleagues at the firm working in our Opportunity Zone team.

https://www.surveyofmayors.com/reports/Menino-Survey-of-Mayors-2019-Final-Report.pdf

-Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris, LLP

New CRA Regulations proposed – including credit for providing “financing for or supports for a QOF”

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) along with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released proposed regulations on December 13, 2019 which would institute significant changes to the implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) if implemented.

https://www.occ.treas.gov/news-issuances/federal-register/2019/nr-ia-2019-147-federal-register.pdf

The new regulations include guidance on many topics, including how CRA performance is measured, transparency of CRA reporting, the definition of assessment areas, and what activities qualify for CRA credit.

Interestingly, the draft guidance includes community development activity that “provides financing for or supports” Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) that benefit Opportunity Zones communities as a qualifying activity for CRA credit.

There is a 60-day comment period from the date the proposed regulations post on the Federal Register.

If passed, this may spur additional lender interest in lending into Opportunity Zones and into OZ deals given the expansion of where these lenders will get CRA credit. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq., Duane Morris, LLP

Rapid increase in funds invested in Opportunity Zone Funds

Despite the laments that I have heard of late at various conferences and read in various articles, Opportunity Zones are, in our little slice of the world, very busy, very active and, per both Novogradac and Bisnow, OZ Funds who are focused on raising third party equity have seen a marked increase in funds under management in the last few months and have raised approximately $4.5B to date. While this is indeed less than the $6T of unrealized capital gains estimated to be available to invest, it is still a very sizable sum of money.

Per Novogradac, of the 366 funds that they track which represent a targeted funding level of $65.7B if fully funded, 184 Qualified Opportunity Funds have reported back and have raised $4.46B with a funding target for those 184 QOFs of $25.17B. This level of $4.5B is up significantly from September when these same funds had raised $2.5B.

Many folks we work with are focused on the 12/31/19 deadline to invest capital gains into a QOF in order to obtain the 15% reduction in amount subject to capital gains benefit; BUT, as indicated previously, the sky does NOT fall if you miss this date, Armageddon does NOT happen – rather, the investor is eligible for a 10% reduction in 2020 and 2021 if they invest capital gains in those calendar years. So, the program is far from over, far from reaching its potential but is alive and doing well and making progress and moving in the right direction, if right is to attract equity capital in low and moderate income areas that were designated as Opportunity Zones.

My team and I are in the office and working on closing the 39 OZ deals we are currently working on for clients who have pushed forward and are moving deals towards the goal line. Kudos and thank you to those 29 clients for whom we have already closed deals for. We appreciate your business and count our blessings to have worked with you on these fun and exciting projects.

If you have questions or comments, please let us know as we are happy to chat OZs and investments and deployment or anything else you would like to discuss.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

House Legislation Would Establish OZ Reporting Framework and Penalties; Senate Bill Would Limit Application of OZs

While impeachment discussions continue to garnering most of the headlines, Representatives Ron Kind, D-Wis., Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala., introduced legislation in the House to establish a reporting framework, disclosure requirements and a penalty structure for qualified opportunity funds (QOFs).

Their Bill, the “Opportunity Zone Accountability and Transparency Act”, would mandate that QOFs annually report assets; their aggregate amount of qualified OZ stock, OZ partnership interests and OZ business property; and provide details about the types of OZ businesses for which the QOF holds business property. According to Novogradac, the legislation would also institute a $500 daily fine for failure to file correct information and would require the Treasury Department to collect and compile statistical information on each OZ, including the number of QOFs that have invested in each OZ.

Across the way in the Senate, Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the “Opportunity Zone Reporting and Reform Act”. Senator Wyden’s bill would require information reporting from qualified opportunity funds (QOFs), end the designation of some 200 different opportunity zones (OZs), clarify some terms used in the OZ incentive and require a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the effectiveness of the incentive.

The Senate Bill would require QOFs to report in 9 areas, including:
– providing information on the amount and composition of assets, the names and taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) of investors along with the amount and dates of their investments;
– which opportunity zones the funds have invested in;
– the value of qualified OZ stock, partnership interests and business property;
– the value of any tangible or intangible property held by the QOF;
– the NAICS code of any Qualified Opportunity Zones Businesses (QOZBs) conducted by the fund or any corporation or partnership in which the fund holds an interest; and
– for QOZBs conducted by the fund or by a controlled corporation or partnership, the value of tangible and intangible property (including cash) and the average monthly full-time employees of the QOZB.

The Senate legislation, if enacted, would also end the OZ designation for all “contiguous zones” (a change that was added in the April 2018 regulations) that were named OZs, but which are not low-income and would define the term “substantially all” to mean “not less than 90 percent.” (i.e., effectively changing the QOZB asset test from 70% to 90%). The legislation would also require QOFs to make their reports public on the Internet and would require that the IRS maintain a public list of all QOFs.

The Senate legislation would also expand the application of “sin businesses” to disallow investments in private planes, along with skyboxes and luxury boxes. Prohibited investments would also be expanded to include sports stadiums, self-storage facilities, and housing developments that are un-affordable to existing zone residents.

While the proposed legislation would remove certain zones (approximately 200) as not being within what the Bill’s author believed to be in the spirit of the OZ legislation given the incomes and demographics that now are located within these “wealthy” zones, the legislation then allows states to designate an equal number of new zones which could be added to offset the lost zones. These new zones would remain on the same timeline as the zones originally designated in 2018, with their designations expiring at the end of 2028.

The legislation would also modify the Treasury letter ruling that did not require a QOF to include the value of land for purposes of calculating “substantial improvement” and would also impose a penalty of $10,000 on funds or investors failing to comply with their respective reporting requirements, with exceptions for reasonable cause. Penalties would be doubled for taxpayers found to be intentionally disregarding their reporting requirements.

While it is clearly too early to call whether these two Bills will move forward to a debate and/or passage, at the moment Republicans in the Senate are believed to be firmly against the proposed Senate Bill.

We will keep an eye on these proposed Bills and keep you apprised as things move, if they move on this front. In the meanwhile, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at bamolotsky@duanemorris.com.

–Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

New Markets Tax Credits – Application process and key dates announced by the CDFI

Earlier today, September 4, 2019, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announced the opening of the calendar year 2019 allocation round of the new markets tax credit (NMTC).

For those who participate in the New Markets arena, applications are due Oct. 28, 2019.

The CDFI Fund anticipates announcing 2019 NMTC awards in summer 2020.

If of interest to you, the NMTC program application, a notice of allocation availability, an introduction to the NMTC program, an Awards Management Information navigation guide, a frequently asked questions guide, and an application road map presentation are all available on line.

Copies of these materials can be found at www.newmarketscredits.com. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or contact us – bamolotsky@duanemorris.com

NJEDA launches Opportunity Zone Challenge Program

On July 16th, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched its previously announced Opportunity Zone Challenge Program. The Challenge Program is a competitive $500,000 grant program aimed at supporting community efforts to attract investments in NJ Opportunity Zones. Grants awarded through the program will fund municipal and county-level financial and technical planning around Opportunity Zone (OZ) economic development.

The OZ program is a federal incentive program which was part of the 2018 Tax Act that enables investors to re-deploy capital gains into low-income areas (which are the areas targeted by the designated Opportunity Zones) via the use of a Qualified Opportunity Zone fund (QOF). These Qualified Opportunity Zone funds or QOFs may be self-directed and self-certified. Capital gains placed into these QOFs must then be invested into real estate or a qualified business within applicable opportunity zones that exist within all 50 states in the US.

New Jersey has 169 separate Opportunity Zones which span 75 municipalities across all 21 NJ counties.

According to NJEDA, the Challenge Program is intended to encourage and assist communities in developing specific action plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone–based investments. The Challenge Program will award 5 grants of up to $100,000 each to select municipal or county governments or municipal partnerships of 2 to 5 municipalities whose applications demonstrate a clear strategic plan to build investment capacity in their applicable Opportunity Zones. The Challenge Program grants are open to all 75 NJ municipalities and 21 counties.

As part of the application process, the applicants are required to designate at least one strategic partner whose external expertise will be used to achieve the Challenge Program’s goals.

Our team is available to answer applicable questions about the Opportunity Zone program and the Challenge Program. Brad A. Molotsky, Esq. (bamolotsky@duanemorris.com)

Opportunity Zones – Additional States Continue to Join the Growing List of Places (39 States in All) Following Federal Form

Busy times continue in the Opportunity Zone world now that we have gotten past the clarion call of 2018 partnership rollovers into Qualified Opportunity Funds and Qualified Opportunity Zone Businesses that occurred on or before June 28, 2019. In our little corner of the world, deals are getting closed and new engagements happening, in particular on the business side of the ledger and some on the community impact side as well. Interesting and exciting stuff.

Based on my conversations with friends and colleagues at KPMG (thanks team for your continued excellent efforts) regarding the various states and their conformity with the federal OZ program – as of July 14th, 39 states for corporations and 33 states for individuals have elected to follow form with Pennsylvania being the latest to join the hit parade as of last week:

For Corporations:
— 39 states currently are conforming (rolling or updated state IRC conformity; AZ and MN are recent changes; AZ retroactively conforms starting TY18; HI conforms starting in TY19; IA conforms starting in TY19; MN might be retroactive but DOR guidance has not been issued yet)
— 2 states didn’t update IRC conformity
(CA, NH)
— 1 state updated IRC conformity but decoupled from IRC 1400Z (NC)

For Individuals:
— 33 states currently conforming (rolling or updated state IRC conformity; AZ and MN are recent changes; AZ retroactively conforms starting TY18; HI conforms starting in TY19; IA conforms starting in TY19; MN might be retroactive but DOR guidance has not been issued yet)
— 1 state didn’t update IRC conformity (CA)
— 1 state updated IRC conformity but decoupled from IRC 1400Z (NC)
— 6 states where IRC conformity is different for personal income tax or only have selective IRC conformity (AL, AR, MA, MS, NJ, PA) of which three do not conform (AL, MA, MS), one conforms (NJ), one will conform (PA for TYB 1/1/20), and one conforms but only with respect to QOZs located within this state (AR)

Check it out and let us know if you have any questions or need help on your various deals and transactions.

Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris LLP

Proposed Federal Bill targets an Additional $500 Million in NMTC Allocation for Rural Job Zones

Despite the DC gridlock and Democratic Presidential debates, the Rural Jobs Act was introduced this week in the House and Senate to authorize an additional $500 Million Dollars in annual new markets tax credit (NMTC) allocation for 2019 and 2020 that would go to rural job zones.

The rural job zones are defined as low-income communities with a population of 50,000 residents or less that are not adjacent to any urbanized area.

At least 25% of the new NMTC allocation authority would be prioritized for counties with persistent poverty and high migration.

Lead sponsors of the bicameral and bipartisan legislation are Reps. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Shelley Capito, R-W.V., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Glimmers of hope. Have a super weekend. -Brad

#DuaneMorris