Treasury Set to issue new OZ Regulations – 50% Gross Income Test appears to loosen the original standard

In Secretary Mnuchin’s speech at the US Conference of Mayor’s Winter Meeting, he stated:

“…We plan to issue shortly a second set of Opportunity Zone proposed regulations that will provide additional certainty for both businesses and investors. We will clarify, as we have already indicated in the press, that income is not the same as revenues for the requirement that 50% of a zone’s business gross income must come from active conduct of business in the Opportunity Zone. We are also reviewing appropriate safe harbor rules for meeting the test based on where services are performed and where the tangible property is located to create additional opportunity”

While not yet Treasury’s official position, it appears as though these comments indicate Treasury’s inclination to loosen the requirements rather than tightening them.

Per CRE Model, if the regulations ultimately allow Qualified Opportunity Zone Businesses to satisfy the 50% gross income test by locating in an Opportunity Zone without requiring them to derive that income from transactions that take place within the Opportunity Zone, then this would enable many businesses that otherwise would not qualify to consider locating within the Opportunity Zone.

Under the October regulations, retail properties are likely to see increased interest from QOZB tenants because they will (in most cases) more easily source 50% of their income from inside the Opportunity Zone. However, many office and industrial tenants are likely to have wider trade areas that could disqualify them. If Treasury expands the requirement to only require that the activity that generates the income must take place inside an Opportunity Zone, then these property types are likely to see increased tenant interest.

Feel free to contact our OZ team at Duane Morris if you have any questions or other concerns on this or any other OZ topics – Brad A. Molotsky