The Way forward for Alternative Zones – Taxes

Tax Facts is the latest podcast from Buchanan Ingersoll &
Rooney around the world of tax law and new changes that have an impact
Companies and investors alike.

In our first episode Lisa Starczewski and Lafe Metz from Buchanan
Ingersoll & Rooney discuss the world of opportunity zones,
important deadlines for the program and what the future holds
This valuable tax incentive investment vehicle.

Lisa Starczewski is a Buchanan shareholder and chairwoman of
The company's tax department and the Opportunity Zones team. Lafe
Metz is also a Buchanan shareholder and chairman of the company
Practice group real estate.

In the following, Starczewski and Metz cover:

  • The history of the opportunity zones and
    What the deadline of March 31, 2021 actually means.
  • How investors can still take
    Advantage of this program.
  • How the 2020 census may affect the census
    Opportunity Zones Program.
  • What is changing the COVID-19 relief?
    Packages for the Opportunity Zones program.
  • How possible changes in tax rates
    and the OZ regulations could have an impact on the program.

To listen
the podcast

Podcast transcript

Lafe Metz: Welcome to the first episode
by Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney & # 39; s Tax
Facts. This is a podcast on the world of tax law
new changes that affect companies and investors alike. My name is
Lafe Metz, and I am your host today. I am a shareholder in
Buchanan and the chairman of the company's real estate group. I am
I am very happy to welcome my colleague Lisa Starczewski
also a shareholder in Buchannan and is the chairman of our company
Tax department and chairman of our Opportunity Zones team.
Lisa, thank you very much for being here. I am excited to be
talking to you.

Lisa Starczewski: Of course, Lafe.
It is a pleasure to be here.

Lafe Metz: Lisa, you are what I think
to be one of the world's leading experts on Opportunity Zone
is important and so it is a privilege for me to be here and
talk to you about it more. And I know there have been many
recent activity in the Opportunity Zone world, and there are some
Deadlines that will be important to many customers and others
Taxpayer. So can you tell us what time it is on March 31st?
about and why will our customers care?

Lisa Starczewski: Before I do that, let's
I'm just going to give you a brief overview of the Opportunity Zone (OZ).
program and just make sure all of our listeners are on the same page
Page in terms of what it is. The OZ program allows taxpayers
have made capital gains from, for example, the sale of shares,
defer selling real estate, selling a business, etc.
Pay taxes on that capital gain and invest in one instead
Opportunity Zone through an entity that we call qualified
Opportunity Fund or a QOF.

There are several tax breaks for this type of loan
Investment. One is the forbearance related to the tax itself
that original capital gain that is invested. This gain
will not be taxed until 2026. The second advantage is the fact that a
A portion of this invested profit may never be taxed
15% of this, depending on when the OZ investment is made.

And the third and perhaps most powerful benefit is
the fact that when a taxpayer makes and holds this type of investment
there has been none of the valuations on the for at least 10 years
Investments are always taxed.

The idea behind the program was to create incentives for people to move around
Bring money to targeted geographic areas in order to bring economic benefits
Improvement and prosperity in these places. There are 8,700
designated qualified opportunity zones in the United States and the United States

Let me now return to your question about March
31st. The OZ program has a number of requirements that
must be met in order to receive the tax benefits I just described
apply. And many of the requirements set schedules for both
the original investor and the fund and the companies in which the fund invests
in. Regarding this original investor who realized
Capital gain and wants to invest in an opportunity zone that
The taxpayer has 180 days to make this profit and move
it into a qualified opportunity fund. The 180 day rules are
complicated. Special rules apply for transit
gain. There are exceptions and I won't go into all of them
from that. But the March 31 deadline is important because as part of it
the COVID-19 relief that the IRS provided to the OZ program, it
has extended this period of 180 days for investors, so that a
Taxpayers whose 180-day period would otherwise have expired,
You may still be able to use the program if you move the program
Money until March 31, 2021. Profit from 2019
continue to be eligible under this facility. It is important to remember
What has to happen by that date is the movement of the
Money in a qualified Opportunity Fund entity, not that money
must work in a zone. In a certain capacity in a
specific project. You only have to invest in the fund unit
until March 31st.

Lafe Metz: Can you say again how to do it
work with the COVID-19 relief? So I think you said that
It's not just 180 days back in the past from here, so it's not
how it went from September 30th, 2020 until now. It achieved
further back than that. Can you say a little more about that?

Lisa Starczewski: It does. It achieves everything
the way back to 2019 and indeed when it's pass-through profit when
It is a profit made in a partnership or an LLC or a
S-Corp or a certain trust, it may be a profit that has been realized so far
back as January 1st, 2019. So in many cases this may be old
gain. And it can be a win that taxpayers have already paid taxes
However, it is permissible to change these returns and have this tax refunded
when they make the decision to move the money by March
31., and they move the money into the fund

Lafe Metz: If I am an investor how do I do it?
I know if something is a qualifying opportunity fund.

Lisa Starczewski: So there isn't
compared to everything magical about a qualified opportunity fund company
any other business entity so that a fund can be organized as
Partnership, as a company, included in a partnership of
Of course in an LLC or as an S-Corp. So it's just a unit.
There is nothing magical about it. It doesn't have to be
certain number of owners, except for the fact that it cannot be one
neglected thing.

Lafe Metz: Many Thanks. And so, let's
Imagine if I am someone with a profit that I would love
investing in an opportunity fund but I haven't found one yet.
Is it possible to just make one yourself and park the money in it?
there and later in another fund or in one
Zone if I find out later?

Lisa Starczewski: The answer is yes. The
Investor could set up his own, say partnership or LLC,
because this is the most common entity type used in this scenario
and park the money there by March 31st to meet the deadline and
then a couple of different things could happen. The money could be
withdrawn from this entity to another qualified
Opportunity Fund and there would be different requirements that
must be adhered to in relation to the time for this. It would restart
their watch for a 10-year hold period for exclusion from profits
ten years. What could also happen is that the fund can then search
Companies out there developing projects in opportunity
Zones. Because the fund can then invest in another company
that acts as the qualified opportunity zone business. fact is that
A two-tier structure almost always applies. So the
What the fund cannot do is invest in another qualifying fund
Opportunity Fund. That is not allowed under the rules.

Lafe Metz: Ok got it. So with March
31. Deadline, we started talking about it because it was relief
that the IRS had offered in response to COVID-19. they are
try to relax some of the deadlines. Is there another type of
Relief that the IRS has provided for the OZ program?

Lisa Starczewski: Yes, there absolutely
is. So the investor relief was only part of the investor relief
IRS provided in this latest notice. They also provided relief
the fund itself as well as in companies in which the fund could be involved
what we call Qualified Opportunity Zone companies
or QOZBs you may hear about.

The fund itself is therefore subject to an investment standard of 90%.
Accordingly, 90% of his assets must meet certain requirements
Conditions. Essentially, they need to be used in a job
Opportunity zone, either through direct ownership of property or
Owned by Qualified Opportunity Zone Companies. When the fund
Failure to follow this 90% test, which generally applies to everyone
Six months, there is a fine that is imposed on them
Funds. And it was really difficult for funds that were
was founded in 2018-2019 and early 2020 to get the job done.
In some cases, construction has been suspended due to the pandemic. It
It was difficult to get permission. It was hard to visit
other regions and are looking for viable projects. And so did the IRS
decided to provide significant relief on this 90% test.
For example, for a calendar year fund unit for the whole of 2020 and all
by 2021, that 90% will essentially not count for the purposes of this
Exam. The fund does not have to pass the test for this

In addition, there are a number of tests and requirements
the business level of the qualified opportunity zone. And there are
Requirements to significantly improve certain properties that they are
bought either by the fund or by the company. All of these
Schedules involved in these requirements have been made
to some extent alleviated in relief. I will not get
in all the gist of these rules, but the moral of the
Story here is that Fund and Qualified Opportunity Zone Company
have got significant breaks and have much longer runways too
Invest the money invested properly and develop it further
Projects in opportunity zones. For everyone who wants more
Information about the relief, I have a customer service I wrote about it

Lafe Metz: Switch a little,
The Opportunity Zone program was created under the Tax Reductions and Jobs sections
Act of 2017 during the Trump administration. What is your
Feeling about how the public perceives the program? Is this
perceived as a Republican program? Is it something of Biden
Administration preferred and want to continue?

Lisa Starczewski: I think you have it easy
Looking back at the history of the program to see that, no,
This is not and was not a partisan program
Republican program, and it wasn't a Trump program. The OZ program
has been heavily politicized for one in recent years
Diversity of reasons. But the reality is that the idea is behind it
The program was created a few years ago with Sean Parker from Facebook
Fame and a think tank he created called Economic
Innovation group. And the point of this group and of Sean Parker
Many years ago an attempt should be made to analyze how the tax changes
Politics could address and influence inequality. Get the OZ program
bipartisan support from the start, and its creation wasn't in
the law on tax cuts and jobs. Instead, it was legislative creation
in a separate law called Investing and
Opportunity Act, which was introduced by before tax reform
Republican Senator Tim Scott and Democratic Senator Cory Booker.
So the program absolutely has a bipartisan history, and so do I.
I believe there is still bipartisan support for the program.

Lafe Metz: So are you thinking?
will be during the
Biden administration?

Lisa Starczewski: Well, first I think
that Biden and his administration have a real chance here
Correct the story related to the OZ program and repeat
Indeed, the program was the result of a bipartisan effort. they
were in some ways able to rename it and really promote its use
of the program to manifest the originally intended results. There
There was early speculation that the OZ program might be
eliminated under Biden. But that doesn't seem to be the direction
for Biden to come in or for Congress to come in. Instead what
They propose certain changes to the program
would create more transparency and give people a better one
Sense and a data-driven sense whether this program is or not
work and where it works and where it doesn't.
You know, we're moving the needle in on economic metrics
low income communities?

I think, as I said, that there is still widespread support,
However, there is a desire to pass additional or additional laws
regulatory guidelines. And I think we'll see that in one
from four or all four different areas. And i will do it
talk about it quickly.

  • One is that Biden said he was
    seeks to incentivize funds to work with nonprofits and others
    community-oriented organizations and work together to create
    Projects that focus on job creation and other local issues
  • The second area and I think
    We will definitely see some form of it increase
    Reporting by fund and company in the Qualified Opportunity Zone
    in relation to infusions of cash, where the money will be used
    Work and then the results. How many jobs have been created? What
    The economic indicators have changed as a result of the OZ
  • The other thing we might see is
    Changes to the tracks themselves. There was a new census in 2020,
    and we can see some movement regarding the law
    current tracks
  • And then the last one
    There was a little talk. I don’t know if it’s like that
    just wishful thinking, or how real it really is, about expanding
    the 2026 deadline. And just a kind of extension of the program. And
    Of course, if they did, it was about these deadlines that I was talking about
    2021 is important and we will talk more about it a
    a little, would change because 2026 would be a little later
    as the. Profit could and would be postponed longer
    be more opportunity for people to invest in skilled opportunities
    Means and receive all tax benefits.

Lafe Metz: A concern that I heard
Some people throw back on the question of the will of the program
Change under the Biden administration, what happens if
Is there a change in the capital gains tax rate? Did you
Thoughts about it?

Lisa Starczewski: There are a number of
Tax changes that have been circulated. And there are a couple of them
This can have a significant impact on the OZ program, but it is not essential
in a negative way. So let's talk about capital gains
increase. Yes, we have made very significant capital gains
increase. Currently it is mostly 20% plus 3.8%.
The net investment tax is 23.8%. And it could increase
up to 43.4% if we look at the highest income rate that
could be imposed on ordinary income that could go back up to
39.6% then we add that 3.8% right? So this is very severe
Change in Capital Gain Rate. And investors will pay
Tax on this deferred profit in whatever amount applies in 2026,
not the rate that is effective when the gain is realized, so
You would be subject to that increased rate if the rate actually is
as high as that in 2026.

But let's remember that at the end of 10 years if they
Maintain for 10 years that the entire increase in value is tax-free. The
In the end, use is worth much more economic value, if what
You save 43.4% and not 23.8%. Because if they had
took the money and they had put it somewhere else and they
deserves the same amount of appreciation, it's taxable. It is
taxed at 43.4%. So honestly, in discussions with my customers and
In conversations with colleagues, we talk about them
negative of the impact on deferred profit and that the rate could
to be increased. But if the OZ investment is really successful
and when there is a significant appreciation. That is and should be far
outweighed by the benefits at the end of the 10 years.

Lafe Metz: You mentioned a moment
before the meaning of 2026 and how that relates to the meaning
this year 2021. And would you mind explaining that again?

Lisa Starczewski: So at the beginning
When I talked about the three benefits, I talked about the second
The point was that part of that deferred profit could never be
taxed. The only way that can be true is if on December 31st, 2026,
The investor can look back and say: OK, I kept my investment
for seven years through 2026. And so 15% of my profit will never go
be taxed. Or I held my investment for at least five years
and therefore 10% of my profit is never taxed. So we
Think about it, right? When it's the end of 2026 and I have to
held out for seven years to get the 15% cut I had to
I was at the end of 2019. And if it's 2026 and it's me
In the search for a 10% cut, I have to be there by the end of 2021.
The end of 2021 is very important because everyone who walks into one
Funds after 2021 that you absolutely can still do still exist
great benefits. You're still the 10 year benefit, however
There will be no forgiveness for the originally deferred profit
if you enter the Fund after December 31, 2021, unless 2026
Date is extended.

Lafe Metz: I hope these deadlines
Expand because you know it's complicated. It is a
complicated program, and it feels like it took the marketplace a
while to familiarize yourself with it. And now that it's understood
Some of the key benefits are no longer available because of it
Deadlines have expired or are approaching quickly.

Lisa Starczewski: Yes that's it
absolutely true, but it's a really good point. I mean if for
No other reason as it took a while to get regulations
gave us all the information on how to actually use the program. And
We had two proposed regulations. Then we had the final
Regulations, then we had clarifications that made content
Changes to These Final Terms. It took a long time
Practitioners, investors and taxpayers to get a real feel for how
that would work, and before that they really took
Risks. You know how to put money into money, and some people have, but
not the numbers they really hoped for. So i agree
There are good reasons to expand it.

Lafe Metz: Let's talk about that
Census a bit. You mentioned earlier that the year 2020
The census can have some implications for the Opportunity Zone program
Maybe you can just step back a little and help us understand how
The 2010 census was important to this program and what followed
Changes in the 2020 census could lead to this.

Lisa Starczewski: Well the tracks were
reported as opportunity zones in spring 2018
Governors of every state made these designations. And there were
Parameters related to how they were created, designated areas and
whether a tract is qualified and what factors contribute to the
Decide whether a particular qualified tract has anything to do with it
whether or not this tract met the requirements of a low income
Community. Was it viewed as a low income community? But the data
that was used to determine that it was old data. It was data from the
2010 census.

And so, as you can well imagine, there were areas that had seen
significant development from 2010 to 2018 and it could still be
called Qualified Opportunity Zones, and it is
where some of the criticism of the program came from. It is
come from the fact that many of these zones if you look at them
You scratch your head and say, "How's that?
low income community? "It really is no more and
Hence, it is a very good place to park an opportunity zone
Investment because your chances of long-term appreciation are great
higher right? It's a much lower risk investment. So this is it
how relevant the 2010 census was. The designations were made. There
is a notice that lists every single tract that is qualified
Opportunity Zone, but changes have been made, major changes
to these areas. Either the boundaries have widened or the wing
has shrunk under the new data, or it has been split into more
as a treatise. And so if you look at this old list of
Tracts and you are now viewing the new census data and mapping.
The two things are not the same and there are questions too
What will happen now in relation to the areas? If it
shrunk, it means that the new boundary lines are what are
relevant? What if there is no longer a wing? What if it is no more?
meets the low-income community requirements? Tracts can be taken
from the list? What if you've already invested in it?
Tracts? How can we make existing investments grandfatherly? Just draw
Language for grandfather is so complicated because think about it
it – what does that mean for grandfather? Are you
Grandfather just the dollars that have already been brought to work?
Is it your grandfather's project that may have a future?
Cash infusions? How will this work properly? And then there is something else
The downside. Can we add tracts? If there are other areas now
If you qualify as a low-income community, the governors may add tracts
the list so we now have more Opportunity Zone areas that can
be invested in? And you know, I can tell you that the
The Ministry of Finance's priority master plan for 2020-2021 includes the
Effects of changes in the census tract on the Opportunity Zone program. And
Hence, they have made it their business to come out with guidance in relation to
this problem, but there are a number of nuances to these answers, and
I think it will take them a while to figure out what they are
want these to be answers.

Lafe Metz: So at least since we were one
A few years after the Opportunity Zone program started, we've seen them all
this development and the various instances of leadership that emerge
and then extensions from COVID-19. What is the general feeling
about the program at this point? Does it feel like working? Is there
enough investment happened? Is there any good value for people to look at
in opportunity zones? What's your takeaway food?

Lisa Starczewski: You know the answer to
so that depends on who you ask, doesn't it? Because there are
People who are absolutely thrilled with the opportunity
Zone program, and there is a certain sense of disappointment that there is
just didn't have the huge impact people were hoping for
it would have. But you know I think it really matters
step back and just realize a few things.

One is that we had this pandemic, and you really are
Can't even look at the last year in terms of rating
what this program can do. The second is that we saw that
highly politicized approach to OZ in March 2018 and 2019.
For this reason there was a certain reluctance. And
We just didn't have enough guidance to know what we were either
do or how to do it. I think there are reasons for that
has not had the tremendous impact it has the potential to be
to have. But I think we are seeing excitement about it again now
the OZ program across the board and much more. And I think
There are a number of reasons for this, right? I believe that the
A potential increase in capital gains makes people talk
to talk about it and about, "OK that makes it more or less
less attractive? "And I think in most cases it does more

Another tax change I couldn't talk about is
that Biden could eliminate the same exchange that is now
limited to real estate, but if that goes away completely this is it
becomes one of the only ways to gain capital, tax and defer
becomes even more important. So we have the tax changes that are out there
drive a bit of excitement and renewed interest. We have
the fact that the program is becoming less politicized under Biden. And
I think it will be viewed as a real economy again
Cross-party development tool, and I think it is
will drive excitement. We have seen unprecedented gains in
the bull market we've had for the past few years. There is a
a lot of money on paper out there. There are enormous gains that could be
used in this program. We were in this global pandemic
for a year, which gives us considerable economic benefits
Fallout in our United States, right? If ever there was a need
for economic development instruments it is now. States, cities, towns,
They must use every tool that is available to them
Incentives for recovery and growth. All of these things I think are
work together to revitalize the OZ program, which is really leading
to my last point.

The OZ program is not a panacea on its own.
Bring help and development to low-income communities. This is
not what it is. This is not what it should ever be. It
doesn't make bad investments, doesn't make good investments. It doesn't.
But it's a tool, isn't it? It's a tool. It can be part of the
Capital stacks in a transaction. It could be one more thing
that makes the project feasible. It is the greatest and most powerful
Usage is when it is used as part of a package that is state and local
In addition to vocational training programs, governments have put together
Small business loans, streamlined regulatory processes, taxes
incremental funding. The more cooperation and collaboration that
exists between investors and funds and your local and state
Municipalities and business development authorities, the more so
likely this program will be used in such a way that
fulfills its original goals.

Lafe Metz: Well, Lisa, it was a privilege
talking to you. I learn more about Opportunity Zones every time
have a chance to interact, and your knowledge of the statute and
Your practical experience is also evident. We are lucky
To have you here in Buchanan. Thank you again for joining us. I
I would also like to thank everyone in the audience for tuning in. We hope
They will join us for future episodes of Tax Facts.
and you can do so by subscribing to the podcast on Apple or
Google or Spotify or wherever you want to listen. If you want
to learn more about Buchanan and our experience in tax law and in
Property. Please visit our website at and you can also learn more
For information on opportunity zones, go to Opportunity Zones. Until next time
I'm Lafe Metz and I'm here with Lisa Starczewski. And
Thank you for getting used to Tax Facts.

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