March 18, 2024

Defer, Reduce, Eliminate: Opportunity Zones Offer Investors a Tax Trifecta by David Cox, CPA, Tax Partner

 

 

 

Background

In 2017, the United States Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, introducing a powerful tool for fostering economic growth and revitalizing distressed communities: Opportunity Zones.

Opportunity Zones offer substantial tax incentives to investors willing to allocate capital in designated low-income areas. These incentives, ranging from deferred taxes to elimination of capital gains, have gained the interest of investors looking for both financial returns and social impact.

What are Opportunity Zones?

Opportunity Zones are economically distressed communities designated by state governors and certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. These zones span urban, suburban, and rural areas across the United States. The program incentivizes long-term private investment in these communities through substantial tax benefits.

California offers a diverse array of opportunities – specifically, the state has 879 Opportunity Zone census tracts across 57 counties – click here to find Opportunity Zones in California.

Tax Benefits of Investing in Opportunity Zones

Investing in Opportunity Zones offers the following tax benefits:

1. Deferral of Capital Gains Tax:

  • Investors can defer taxes on capital gains from the sale of any asset by reinvesting those gains into a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) within 180 days of the sale. The deferred taxes become due either upon the sale of the investment in the Opportunity Zone or by December 31, 2026, whichever comes earlier.

2. Reduced Capital Gains Tax:

  • If the QOF is held for at least five years, investors become eligible for a 10% reduction in the deferred capital gains taxes.
  • Holding the investment for seven years increases this reduction to 15%.

3. Elimination of Future Gains:

  • The real kicker comes if you hold your investment in the QOF for at least ten years.

In this case, capital gains taxes are completely excluded from your taxable income.

Yes, you read that correctly!

Any capital gains realized from the appreciation of investments in Opportunity Zones held for a decade or more are entirely tax-free.

This provision offers investors the opportunity to not only defer but potentially eliminate capital gains taxes, resulting in substantial after-tax returns.

Important things to remember:

  • These benefits are only available through investments in Qualified Opportunity Funds, which are specifically designed to invest in Opportunity Zones.
  • Opportunity Zones are designated low-income communities across the US, so there may not be one conveniently located near you.
  • Investing in QOFs comes with its own risks and complexities, so it is crucial to consult with your DK tax advisor before making any decisions.

If you are interested in QOFs, I would be more than happy to speak with you. Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or 818-385.0585.

Here are a couple of resources where you can learn more about Opportunity Zones:

Looking Ahead

The Opportunity Zone program remains a complex and evolving landscape. While the program offers significant tax incentives and has the potential to attract substantial investment into distressed communities, its success hinges on thoughtful implementation, robust oversight, and genuine community engagement.