Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs) were created by Congress in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in order to spur investment into distressed communities around the country. Investors are allowed to place capital gains from the sale of stocks, real estate or businesses into OZ funds without having to pay taxes on those capital gains. This investment strategy is similar to 1031 exchanges except OZs allow the elimination of tax obligation whereas 1031s only defer tax obligations.
If the investment is held for five years, a 10% exclusion of the deferred gain is realized; after 7 years that exclusion increases to 15%. After holding the investment in the fund for 10 or more years, the investor can realize a benefit of paying no taxes on the investment.
To invest in an OZ, the investor must either:
OZ funds can invest in either real estate development or start-up/spin-off businesses whose primary office/place of business is located inside the boundaries of the OZ. In this article, we will focus on the real estate side of OZ investing. But imagine the tax savings if you invested into the next Amazon or Microsoft (located in an OZ) then cashed out after 10 years with no taxes due to the federal government.
In West Virginia, 55 areas have been designated as Opportunity Zones over 30 counties. Regionally, parts of Morgantown, Fairmont, Clarksburg, Buckhannon, Elkins and a large portion of Taylor County have been designated as OZs. Click here for a map of OZs.
In commercial real estate, there are a couple ways to invest into a QOZ. The goal of the program is to spur development into distressed communities; therefore one cannot purchase land under the QOZ program and just sit and hold the property. A developer can purchase raw land and make improvements to the land by developing a site where a working business entity is to be located. A developer can also purchase property with existing structures but must make investment into the property to ‘significantly’ increase the value of the property; significant is defined as at least doubling the value of the property.
The details of the OZ fund program are fairly extensive. Please contact us at Black Diamond Realty or call your accountant or financial planner/advisor to further discuss the benefits of the OZ program.
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Article by Chris Waters, BDR Associate