Tag Archives: ESG

NJEDA launches Opportunity Zone Challenge Program – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

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 – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

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 – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

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

Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision Making – ULI –

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) released its new report entitled “Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision-Making” this week at their Spring conference. This report is a follow on to their 2018 report entitled “Ten Principles for Building Resilience”. This year’s report addresses the state of current practice for assessing and mitigating climate risks in real estate as well as highlighting best practices across the real estate industry. was developed using a proactive approach to address climate risks.

Per the report’s conclusions, “a failure to address and mitigate climate risks may result in increased exposure to loss as a result of assets suffering from reduced liquidity and lower income, which will negatively affect investment returns. At the same time, investors who arm themselves with more accurate data on the impact of climate risks could help differentiate themselves and benefit from investing in locations at the forefront of climate mitigation.”

Continued focus and monitoring of results from an Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and social impact investing point of view, continue to be the touchstones as 2019 marches on.

-Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris LLP

Washington DC – Opportunity Zone March Madness – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

Earlier this week, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced 3 new initiatives intended to maximize opportunity zones (OZ) benefits in the nation’s capital.

The city committed $24 million to properties that support affordable housing, workforce development and the growth of small businesses in the district’s 25 OZs.

Mayor Bowser also announced the OZ Community Corps to provide free legal and other advice, as well as an online OZ marketplace for sponsors, fund managers, investors and community members.

For more information about Washington, DC’s Opportunity Zones, visit oppzones.dc.gov

While this will not help my brackets at all, it is a super step forward for DC’s 25 OZ’s, well done Mayor!

-Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

Opportunity Zone Update – OMB Guidance Expected and Some State Follow On – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

Continued high interest and activity on the Opportunity Zone fronts on many levels this past week. Conversations, closings and connections continue at a torrid pace – including a packed IMN conference in NYC this past week with many of the national and regional luminaries in attendance. By way of a quick update on a few fronts, courtesy of our friends at Novogradac for their recon:

Federal – On March 12th, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) received the 2nd tranche of regulatory guidance for review from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) concerning the opportunity zones (OZ) incentive. OIRA is a division of the White House Office Management of the Budget. The proposed IRS rule is expected to address what types of property qualify as qualified OZ business property, steps an OZ business must take to be qualified, the penalty for a qualified opportunity fund’s failure to meet the 90% investment standard and more. After a mandated review of at least 10 days, the OMB is expected to release the guidance to be published in the Federal Register. The first tranche of guidance was reviewed for 36 days before it was published.

Vermont – H 442 introduced in the Vermont Legislature would make investments made in Opportunity Zones eligible to apply annually for the state Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit, which is twice as often as other projects are allowed to apply and would expand eligibility under the program only for OZ investments. The Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit covers between 10 percent and 50 percent of eligible rehabilitation expenses and has a $2.4 million statewide annual cap. If enacted, the bill would go into effect July 1.

Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine said that his proposed 2020-2021 budget will call for a 10% state income tax credit to attract investment to opportunity zones. DeWine will propose a nonrefundable credit using existing tax credit availability to create the new credit.

At this point 31 states have “followed form” and are offering some level of state capital gains relief to those who follow the federal opportunity zone rules and invest in businesses or real estate pursuant to the federal OZ rules and regulations. New Jersey is moving ahead with a bill to become the 32nd state.

I look forward to seeing some of you on the 25th at our discussion in Baltimore on OZs. If of interest, drop me an email as space is limited. Best regards.
– Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

Leveraging Renewables in Opportunity Zones – Powerful Indeed!

Back on October 19, 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department issued proposed regulations for the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive program created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act.

These regulations were highly anticipated by the real estate development and fund creation communities, which have been eagerly awaiting clarity from Treasury since the creation of the Opportunity Zone program earlier this year. We are in the same position now as we await additional guidance from Treasury that is expected in the next two weeks.

The program could become the most impactful federal incentive for equity capital investment in low-income and distressed communities ever. It offers significant capital gains tax benefits for taxpayers who invest in projects and businesses in low-income areas, allowing investors to delay, reduce and potentially eliminate capital gains taxes on appreciated assets or business located in and on Qualified Opportunity Zone investments.

Qualified Opportunity Zones are census tracts located in all 50 states in a low-income community. A detailed interactive map by state identifying the applicable opportunity zones is available, https://eig.org/opportunityzones.

As Forbes magazine indicated, there is likely $6 trillion of capital gains in the U.S. that represent potential available investment capital that could use this program to drive investment into applicable Qualified Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate.

The program is not limited to any specific product type nor does it mandate any job creation requirements as part of the investment in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Thus, the program is applicable to any type of investor with capital gains from the sale of personal property or real property and to developers/owners of all property types including multi-family rental, retail, hotels, industrial, commercial, office, industries, self-storage, assisted-living, affordable housing, etc.

General Overview:

Under the Opportunity Zone program, individuals and other entities can delay paying federal income tax on capital gains until as late as December 31, 2026 – provided those gains are invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds investing 90 percent of their assets in businesses or tangible property located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. In addition, the gains on investments in Qualified Opportunity Funds can be federal income tax-free if the investment is held for at least 10 years. These tax benefits could reduce the cost of capital for these projects, making them more viable, especially when paired with other development incentives like the New Markets Tax Credit or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Specifically, appreciation on investments within Qualified Opportunity Funds that are held for at least 10 years are excluded from gross income. Thus, the longer one has an investment within a Qualified Opportunity Fund within an Opportunity Zone, the more one can reduce its capital gain – either by 10 percent or 15 percent, and if one stays in the zone for 10 years or more and the property or qualified business appreciated in value, the appreciation is not subject to capital gains tax at the federal level. The regulations as proposed give the investor/owner until December 31, 2047 to sell the business or property in order to take advantage of the no capital gains to be paid on the sale of appreciated assets rules.

Additionally, owners of low tax basis properties can sell their properties and defer the capital gains to the extent the gains are invested in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which will likely attract investor capital that is looking to defer capital gains, thereby making the Qualified Opportunity Zones potentially more valuable than non-Qualified Opportunity Zone properties.

In addition, an Opportunity Fund may combine the tax incentives available in Opportunity Zones with other incentives, including those for renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy projects typically are “project financed,” meaning that the project sponsor invests equity and raises debt on a nonrecourse basis where the debt is serviced from the cash flow generated by the renewable energy project. Federal tax incentives such as the investment tax credit (for solar), the production tax credit (for wind), and accelerated depreciation are available to renewable energy projects; however, the project sponsor may need to partner with a tax equity investor in order to take advantage of these incentives because the project company often is a newly created entity with no tax liability of its own. States may also offer tax and other incentives for investing in renewable energy projects, with the most significant being renewable energy certificate (“REC”) programs.

One REC represents one megawatt-hour of electricity generated by a renewable energy resource. In states that have a renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”), electric utilities are required to supply a certain percentage of electricity from renewable energy resources to their customers. If an electric utility is unable to meet its RPS requirement, it may offset the shortfall by purchasing RECs (or, for solar, SRECs) from a secondary market. Even if a renewable energy project is not located in a state with an RPS, it may be able to sell its RECs into a regional market. Thus, renewable energy projects can offer investors significant federal and state incentives.

Thus, having a development project with potentially lower cost equity due to OZ investors receiving the above stated OZ benefits and when combined with the powerful SREC benefits, accelerated depreciation and lower costs of utilities represented by being able to generate your own electricity, all aggregate to present not only an attractive OZ investment opportunity but one that combines incentives for powerful usage and consumption savings which will be reflected in the overall return for the project and which should inure to the benefit of the owner or their occupants.

A powerful gift that keeps on giving in power consumption savings and cost savings and potential upside on sale after ten years.  Let the sun shine!

By Brad A. Molotsky and Patrick L. Morand

ESG – potential for Disabilities Research Funding for Autism for those over the age of 21 –

Per NJ Biz, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th District, of New Jersey and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-18th District, of Pennsylvania, introduced the bipartisan Autism CARES Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives to reauthorize federal programs and activities that assist children, adults and families with Autism.

The bill, House Resolution 1058, is supported by a coalition of autism and disability advocate organizations, including Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Autism NJ.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Mike Enzi, R-WY.

“Our new legislation will reauthorize vital federal research on earlier interventions for children with autism and expands funding for critical research, education, housing, and other programs that assist the countless children and adults on the spectrum, and their families,” Smith said in a statement.

“The bill will also help ensure that the estimated 50,000 persons with autism each year who ‘age out’ of critical assistance programs and enter adulthood are supported, as many individuals and communities are unprepared for this transition,” Smith said.

The Autism CARES Act of 2019 is a reauthorization of Smith and Doyle’s Autism CARES Act of 2014, Public Law 113-157.

HR 1058 will authorize over $1 billion in funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and the Health Resources and Services Administration over five years. At CDC, the funding will go to developmental disability surveillance and research; at HRSA, the funding will cover education, early detection and intervention; at NIH, the funding will cover the expansion and coordination of autism-related activities.

“The Association of University Centers on Disabilities is grateful to the bipartisan bicameral champions of the Autism CARES legislation for recognizing the critical value of the interdisciplinary training, research, and other activities supported by the bill. We look forward to a speedy reauthorization and continued progress in serving autistic individuals and their families,” said Andy Imparato, executive director of the AUCD.

“The bipartisan bill introduced on Feb. 7 will reauthorize the law for five years (through 2024), further expand the mission to include individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities across the lifespan, expand the interagency autism coordinating committee (IACC) to include agencies that provide services and supports to individuals in the community and authorizes a report to research ways to increase their health and well-being,” said Scott Badesch, executive director and CEO of the Autism Society of America.

A nice step for those in need and their families, as much needed focus and attention tends to cease (if it is there at all) for no good reason other than its arbitrarily mandated at age 21 – will be interesting to see where this goes given the current climate.

SNJ and the Opportunity Zone Program – Strike while the OZ is Hot!

On October 19, the U.S. Treasury Department issued proposed regulations for the federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive program created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act.

These regulations were highly anticipated by the real estate development and fund creation communities, which have been eagerly awaiting clarity from Treasury since the creation of the Opportunity Zone program earlier this year.

The program could become the most impactful federal incentive for equity capital investment in low-income and distressed communities ever. It offers significant capital gains tax benefits for taxpayers who invest in projects and businesses in low-income areas, allowing investors to delay, reduce and potentially eliminate capital gains taxes on appreciated assets or business located in and on Qualified Opportunity Zone investments.

Qualified Opportunity Zones are census tracts located in all 50 states in a low-income community. A detailed interactive map by state identifying the applicable opportunity zones is available, https://eig.org/opportunityzones.

As Forbes magazine indicated, there is likely $6 trillion of capital gains in the U.S. that represent potential available investment capital that could use this program to drive investment into applicable Qualified Opportunity Zone businesses or real estate.

The program is not limited to any specific product type nor does it mandate any job creation requirements as part of the investment in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Thus, the program is applicable to any type of investor with capital gains from the sale of personal property or real property and to developers/owners of all property types including multi-family rental, retail, hotels, industrial, commercial, office, industries, self-storage, assisted-living, affordable housing, etc.

General Overview:

Under the Opportunity Zone program, individuals and other entities can delay paying federal income tax on capital gains until as late as December 31, 2026 – provided those gains are invested in Qualified Opportunity Funds investing 90 percent of their assets in businesses or tangible property located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. In addition, the gains on investments in Qualified Opportunity Funds can be federal income tax-free if the investment is held for at least 10 years. These tax benefits could reduce the cost of capital for these projects, making them more viable, especially when paired with other development incentives like the New Markets Tax Credit or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.

Specifically, appreciation on investments within Qualified Opportunity Funds that are held for at least 10 years are excluded from gross income. Thus, the longer one has an investment within a Qualified Opportunity Fund within an Opportunity Zone, the more one can reduce its capital gain – either by 10 percent or 15 percent, and if one stays in the zone for 10 years or more and the property or qualified business appreciated in value, the appreciation is not subject to capital gains tax at the federal level. The regulations as proposed give the investor/owner until December 31, 2047 to sell the business or property in order to take advantage of the no capital gains to be paid on the sale of appreciated assets rules.

Additionally, owners of low tax basis properties can sell their properties and defer the capital gains to the extent the gains are invested in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, which will likely attract investor capital that is looking to defer capital gains, thereby making the Qualified Opportunity Zones potentially more valuable than non-Qualified Opportunity Zone properties.

Deadlines:

While the benefits of the program can be advantageous, investors and developers seeking to capitalize on the Opportunity Zone program need to move quickly in order to take full advantage of the tax benefit as demand increases and the time period diminishes.

In other words, as the program only lasts until 2026, the seven-year ability to reduce capital gains by 15 percent will disappear if investments are not made by 2019 and the five-year ability to reduce capital gains by 10 percent will disappear if not made by 2021. Therefore, if one is interested in maximizing the value of the program and its value to investors, investors and developers need to move quickly to commence development and acquisitions in order to maximize the time periods available to invest their capital gains inside the program windows provided within the program.

Additionally, in order to defer short- and long-term capital gains realized on the sale of property, the capital gain portion of the sale or disposition has to be reinvested within 180 days in a Qualified Opportunity Fund.

Also important to note that gains are required to be recognized on the earlier of a disposal of the Qualified Opportunity Fund investment or by December 31, 2026, and are reduced over time.

The basis of the Qualified Opportunity Zone investment increases by 10 percent of the deferred gain if the investment is held for five years from the date of reinvestment and by 15 percent of the deferred gain if the investment is held for seven years from the date of reinvestment. In other words, the gain on which capital gains is paid is reduced to 85 percent of the original gain.

While the recently announced regulations provided clarity on specific time period for self-certification as an Qualified Opportunity Zone fund, for what constitutes a Qualified Opportunity Zone business and for what structures now qualify as Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds (i.e., limited partnerships, C-corporations, limited liability companies, REITs, RICs, etc.), investors need to be aware that certain rules regarding related parties and original use property still need to be clarified by Treasury in additional regulations.

In Southern New Jersey

In Southern New Jersey, the program will drive investment from all types of developers and investors seeking to place their capital gains into funds and seeking to place applicable businesses into Qualified Zones in order to potentially defer and reduce applicable capital gains. Developers will seek to purchase land in order to build with their own capital and/or equity from Opportunity Zone investment vehicles in order to utilize cheaper sources of capital and drive development returns.

Atypical real estate investors who are looking to defer and reduce capital gains may not be looking for typical real estate like returns due to the fact that they will be able to defer and reduce their capital gains via the Opportunity Zone program which will likely create a healthy dynamic for capital flows. Sectors such as multifamily, warehouse, self-storage, grocery anchor retail, and assisted living will see substantial interest from investors and developers.

In Camden County, areas such as Cinnaminson, Pennsauken, Deptford, Camden, Pine Hill, Glassboro and Lindenwold will likely be hot spots for focused/targeted Opportunity Zone investment. In Atlantic County, parts of Atlantic City, Pleasantville, the Atlantic City International Airport, Somers Point and in Cumberland County a large swath of Vineland has been designated as an Opportunity Zone and will likely see interest for focused/targeted Opportunity Zone investment.

As Confucius once said, it is good to live in interesting times. Not a day goes by without an article or post online regarding Opportunity Zones and the ability to utilize them for development and capital gains deferral.

Now is the time to optimize your capital gains deferrals and reductions if you have them vis-à-vis the sale of personal property or real property. Interested investors are already focusing on deploying capital in New Jersey and elsewhere in substantially improving various asset classes and in creating funds to deploy in investing in various asset classes.

Brad Molotsky is a real estate attorney and partner in Duane Morris’ New Jersey and Philadelphia offices. He advises clients on commercial leasing (including a specialty in cannabis leasing), acquisitions, opportunity zone fund creation and fund deployment, financing, public private partnerships and real estate joint ventures. He can be reached at BAMolotsky@duanemorris.com.

OZs and Affordable Housing – Good Bedfellows in Nebraska

A bill in the Nebraska Legislature would give priority to federal opportunity zones (OZs) in the allocation of state Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other state programs.

As crafted, LB 87 would add OZs to already existing statewide enterprise zones in receiving priority for allocation of precious housing trust fund assistance. T

The bill would similarly prioritize OZs to receive Job Training Cash Fund, Site and Building Development Fund and Business Innovation Act assistance.

The legislation was referred to the Urban Affairs Committee and is likely to see movement in the coming weeks. This type of OZ together with other incentives at the state level is also seeing similar movement in Ohio and California for different types of incentives for job creation and housing.

If interested, give us a call at Duane Morris where we continue to track and execute on Opportunity Zone related matters for our clients and friends.