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From the Land of OZ: House Legislation Would Establish OZ Reporting Framework and Penalties; Senate Bill Would Limit Application of OZs – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq, Duane Morris LLP

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.

18 states and U.S. territories obtain Qualified Opportunity Zones for development investment

As a follow-up to our Alert from March 1, 2018, on April 9, the IRS and U.S. Treasury approved designated Opportunity Zones in 18 states and territories—including Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin, as well as American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Designations are approved for 10 years and permit investors to defer tax on any prior gains until no later than December 31, 2026, so long as the gain is reinvested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund. A Qualified Opportunity Fund as an investment vehicle that is organized to make investments in the zones designated above as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Note, that while we still await draft regulations, it appears that if investors hold their investments in the Opportunity Fund for at least 10 years, the investor would be able to increase its basis to that of the fair market value of the investment on the date it is sold—in other words, their appreciation in the value of the asset would be tax free.

While sounding almost too good to be true, the rationale of allowing for this type of appreciation treatment is to attempt to incentivize additional or initial investment in the designated low-income areas in an effort to boost economic growth and job creation.

Read the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.