Tag Archives: low income areas

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.

New Markets Tax Credits – Application process and key dates announced by the CDFI – Brad A. Molotsky, Duane Morris

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 roadmap 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 – 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

Opportunity Zones – Updated Regulations Timing Update; White House Appointments; and Disaster OZs Proposed Legislation – Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.

Much going on this week friends – so jumping right into the OZ pool today:

Updated Regulations; Timing – while we were originally hearing that the next set of regulations were supposed to be issued by the IRS and Treasury before April 15th, we have now heard as of earlier this week that it is more likely that the next set of regulations will be issued by the end of April rather than by the 15th. We will keep asking for updated timing and keep you apprised.

White House Appointment – Scott Turner was named the executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. Turner will head up the committee that was established by President Trump in December to help implement and optimize use of federal resources connected to the opportunity zones (OZ) incentive. Turner previously served in the Texas House of Representatives from 2013 through 2017.

Disaster Opportunity Zones – Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced new federal legislation that would allow governors to nominate new areas hit by 2018 hurricanes and California wildfires as opportunity zones (OZs). The Disaster Opportunity Zones Act (DOZA) would enact a new round of OZ designations for North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and California.

If passed Governors will be able to select the greater of 25 tracts or 25% of low-income census tracts in their states affected by natural disasters from January 1, 2018 through March 1, 2019. Curious that the flood ravaged central states of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri were not included but maybe they will be (and maybe the end date of March 1 will be extended) as discussions commence on this proposal.

We will keep our eye on this draft legislation and keep you all apprised as and if this progresses but surely an interesting way to funnel incentive dollars to assist in rebuilding efforts that will be critically necessary.

Keep on keeping on – deals are indeed getting done despite the lack of the second set of regulations – best regards friends. -Brad

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.

Opportunity Zones – CO Taking the OZ Program Seriously!

Governor Jared Polis announced the formation of a dedicated office within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to cultivate active investment in Colorado’s 126 federally designated Opportunity Zones.

“Colorado has earned national recognition for our thoughtful and inclusive approach designating Opportunity Zones, and we are committed to ensuring that we realize the maximum potential,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It’s vital that we continue to build on this momentum and collaborate with communities and investors to make these opportunities a reality to create good jobs.”

The new team will be led by recently named Opportunity Zone Program Director Jana Persky and charged with engaging stakeholders to facilitate active investment in designated Colorado tracts. The office will provide procedural guidance and technical knowledge to enable communities to secure much-needed investment and is funded through an Economic Development Commission allocation.

The office is partnering with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to support communities in developing Opportunity Zone strategies, with the goal of attracting capital to projects that will have a positive community impact.

“DOLA has been working in partnership with local communities and leaders and OEDIT to identify where their designated areas can achieve its full potential,” said DOLA Executive Director Rick Garcia. “Through the Opportunity Zone program, equitable distribution will be possible in some of our rural areas of the state which will provide them with the opportunity to continue along the path towards economic innovation throughout Colorado.”

To help facilitate Opportunity Zone investments, the office will offer grants to support economic modeling, prospectus development, and other technical assistance needed to help community-oriented projects come to fruition.

OEDIT, in conjunction with Startup Colorado and the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, has also launched CO-Invest.co to connect investors and opportunities – including opportunity zones – to leverage the speed and reach of technology to further facilitate the investment opportunities.

Great to see communities, the State and its economic development teams working hand in glove to deliver great resources and tools to the market place to assist those interested in appropriate investment that is desired by the applicable communities. Way to go CO!

New York State of Mind – What Gives?

While I am sure there is some logical explanation, I am a bit puzzled at the moment having just read a blurb from Novogradac regarding a tax bill in New York State –

According to the report, New York State Sens. Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos introduced a bill that would eliminate state tax incentives for capital gains when investing in federal qualified opportunity zones (OZs).

Yes, you read that correctly – eliminate state incentives for investing in the OZ…hmm aren’t we trying to incent people to invest in low and moderate income areas Senators?

S.B. 3401 would be effective for tax years beginning on and after Jan. 1, 2018. The bill, designed to eliminate a NY state incentive to participate in the OZ incentive, was assigned to the Senate Budget and Revenue Committee.

While I can totally appreciate that some might be frustrated by what looks like the rich getting richer regarding certain large companies being incented to come to the New York and receive the benefits of not only a federal incentive in deferral and reduction of capital gains but to then add New York local and state benefits as well might seem like too much, but these benefit to companies like Amazon and Google and others should be weighed in the context of job creation, economic multiplier effect to the local economy and local job creation for local zip codes and for folks who live in the area.  I look forward to hearing from the Senators’ on their rational for eliminating the benefit – maybe too much of a good thing? Should be interesting to say the least.

p.s. congrats to our friends Joe Scalio, Rich Blumenreich, and Ruth Tang, in case you have not heard about it or seen it, but they were all named to the Top 50 in OZs nationally – a worthy honor – have a super weekend!

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