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Investing in Opportunity Zones: The Facts

Posted on November 2nd, 2020

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included numerous changes for businesses and individuals. One of these was the creation of the Opportunity Zones tax incentive, the purpose of which is to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by providing tax benefits to investors.

Which Communities Qualify as Opportunity Zones?

Low-income communities and certain contiguous communities qualify as Opportunity Zones if a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory nominated them for that designation and the U.S. Treasury certified that nomination. Using this nomination process, 8,764 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories were certified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). Congress later designated each low-income community in Puerto Rico as a QOZ effective December 22, 2017.

Tax TipFor a complete list and visual map of census tracts designated as QOZs visit the Opportunity Zones Resources page at the IRS website.

Tax Benefits of Investing in Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones offer tax benefits to business or individual investors who can elect to temporarily defer tax on capital gains if they timely invest those gain amounts in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF). Investors can defer tax on the invested gain amounts until the date they sell or exchange the QOF investment, or Dec. 31, 2026, whichever is earlier.

The length of time the taxpayer holds the QOF investment determines the tax benefits they receive:

  • Five years. If the investor holds the QOF investment for at least five years, the basis of the QOF investment increases by 10% of the deferred gain.
  • Seven years. If the investor holds the QOF investment for at least seven years, the basis of the QOF investment increases to 15% of the deferred gain.
  • Ten years. If the investor holds the investment in the QOF for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible to elect to adjust the basis of the QOF investment to its fair market value on the date that the QOF investment is sold or exchanged.

Deferral of Eligible Gain. Gains that may be deferred are called “eligible gains.” They include both capital gains and qualified 1231 gains, but only gains that would be recognized for federal income tax purposes before January 1, 2027, and that aren’t from a transaction with a related person. To obtain this deferral, the amount of the eligible gain must be timely invested in a QOF in exchange for an equity interest in the QOF (qualifying investment). Once this is done, taxpayers can claim the deferral on their federal income tax return for the taxable year in which the gain would have been recognized if they had not deferred it.Taxpayers may make an election to defer the gain, in whole or in part. For additional information, see How To Report an Election To Defer Tax on Eligible Gain Invested in a QOF in the Form 8949, Sales and other Dispositions of Capital Assets instructions.

Investing in QOZ Property as a Qualified Opportunity Fund

A QOF is an investment vehicle that files either a partnership or corporate federal income tax return and is organized for the purpose of investing in QOZ property. To become a QOF, an eligible corporation or partnership self-certifies by annually filing Form 8996, Qualified Opportunity Fund with its federal income tax return. The return, together with Form 8996, must be filed timely, taking extensions into account. An LLC that chooses to be treated either as a partnership or corporation for federal income tax purposes can organize as a QOF.

Qualified Opportunity Zone Property

QOZ property is a QOF’s qualifying ownership interest in a corporation or partnership that operates a QOZ business in a QOZ or certain tangible property of the QOF that is used in a business in the QOZ. To be a qualifying ownership interest in a corporation or partnership, (1) the interest must be acquired after December 31, 2017, solely in exchange for cash; (2) the corporation or partnership must be a QOZ business; and (3) for 90% of the holding period of that interest, the corporation or partnership was a QOZ business.

Qualified Opportunity Zone Business Property

QOZ business property is tangible property that a QOF acquired by purchase after 2017 and used in a trade or business and:

  • the original use of the property in the QOZ commenced with the QOF or QOZ business OR
  • the property was substantially improved by the QOF or QOZ business; and
  • during 90 percent of the time the QOF or QOZ business held the property, substantially all (generally at least 70 percent) of the use of the property was in a QOZ.

Leased property may also qualify as QOZ business property. The lease must be a market-rate lease entered into after December 31, 2017, to qualify.

Qualified Opportunity Zone Business

Each taxable year, a QOZ business must earn at least 50% of its gross income from business activities within a QOZ; however, the regulations provide three safe harbors that a business may use to meet this test. These safe harbors take into account any of the following:

  • Whether at least half of the aggregate hours of services received by the business were performed in a QOZ;
  • Whether at least half of the aggregate amounts that the business paid for services were for services performed in a QOZ; or
  • Whether necessary tangible property and necessary business functions to earn the income were located in a QOZ.

Questions?

Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions or would like additional information about investing in Opportunity Zones.

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2 Ways to Avoid Massive Taxes When Selling a Rental Property

Posted on September 1st, 2020

If you own a rental property (and live there, too) you have 2 fantastic opportunities to reduce taxes on capital gains when selling a rental property.  Read More…

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Tax Facts to Know If You’re Selling Your Home This Year

Posted on August 2nd, 2020

In most cases, gains from sales are taxable. But did you know that if you sell your home, you may not have to pay taxes? Here are ten facts to keep in mind if you sell your home this year. Read More…

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Home Equity Loan Interest Still Deductible

Posted on March 5th, 2020

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has resulted in questions from taxpayers about many tax provisions including whether interest paid on home equity loans is still deductible. The good news is that despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled. Read More…

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Opportunity Zone Guidance Finalized

Posted on January 4th, 2020

Final regulations were recently issued regarding details about investment in qualified opportunity zones (QOZ) that modified and finalized proposed regulations for QOFs and QOZ businesses that were previously issued on October 28, 2018, and May 1, 2019.

The final regulations provide additional guidance for taxpayers who are eligible to make an election to temporarily defer the inclusion in gross income of certain eligible gain. The final regulations also address the ability of such taxpayers’ eligibility to increase the basis in their qualifying investment equal to the fair market value of the investment on the date that it is sold, after holding the equity interest for at least 10 years. Read More…

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Avoid IRS Audits: Fix the 1099 Prepaid-Rent Mismatch

Posted on November 15th, 2019

Two questions:

  1. Are you prepaying your 2020 rent so that you have a big 2019 tax deduction?
  2. How do you identify in your accounting records the monies you put on your IRS Form 1099-MISC for the business rent payments to your landlord?

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Tax Tips for Owners of Historic Buildings

Posted on November 1st, 2019

If you own a historic building you should know about a tax credit called the rehabilitation tax credit, which offers an incentive to renovate and restore old or historic buildings. Read More…

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Rental Real Estate Qualifies as a Business

Posted on October 5th, 2019

A safe harbor is now available for taxpayers seeking to claim the section 199A deduction with respect to a “rental real estate enterprise.” What this means is that certain interests in rental real estate – including interests in mixed-use property – are allowed to be treated as a trade or business for purposes of the qualified business income deduction under section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code. Read More…

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Homeowner Records: What to Keep and How Long

Posted on September 3rd, 2019

Keeping full and accurate homeowner records is vital for determining not only your home deductions but also the basis or adjusted basis of your home. These records include your purchase contract and settlement papers if you bought the property, or other objective evidence if you acquired it by gift, inheritance, or similar means. Read More…

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Avoid Refund Delays by Renewing Expiring ITINs Now

Posted on August 5th, 2019

ITINs (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers) are used by people who have tax filing or payment obligations under U.S. law but who are not eligible for a Social Security number. Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, ITINs that have not been used on a federal tax return at least once in the last three consecutive years will expire Dec. 31, 2019. Furthermore, ITINs with middle digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 that have not already been renewed will also expire at the end of the year. Others do not need to take any action. Read More…

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Good News: Most Rentals Likely Qualify as Section 199A Businesses

Posted on June 28th, 2019

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) tax reform added new tax code Section 199A, which created a 20 percent tax deduction possibility for you if your rental property (a) has profits and (b) can qualify as a trade or business.1 Read More…

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For 199A Tax Deductions, Must Landlords Give 1099s to Vendors?

Posted on June 20th, 2019

The preamble to the Section 199A final regulations contains the following new sentence:

… taxpayers should consider the appropriateness of treating a rental activity as a trade or business for purposes of section 199A where the taxpayer does not comply with the information return filing requirements under section 6041.1

Tax code Section 6041 requires a trade or business to issue 1099s to certain vendors.2
So, the IRS is saying that you “should consider the appropriateness” of NOT giving 1099s to vendors if you are asserting that your rental property qualifies as a trade or business for the Section 199A tax deduction. Read More…

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Is Home Equity Loan Interest still Deductible?

Posted on March 3rd, 2019

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has resulted in questions from taxpayers about many tax provisions including whether interest paid on home equity loans is still deductible. The good news is that despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled.

Read More…

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How to Maximize the Tax Benefits of Rental Property

Posted on March 1st, 2019

Rent to Win: Understanding the Income and Tax Benefits of Rental Property

Have you thought about purchasing a rental property? Great! You have the opportunity to generate additional income, save for retirement, and improve your tax posture. To unlock the full income and tax benefits of rental property, it’s critical that you do the following 5 things first:

  • Meet with a financial planner. Explore how owning a rental property will fit into your current and future financial needs.
  • Carefully choose the right rental property! Do your homework. Research the neighborhood. Compare monthly rental rates for nearby properties.
  • Consult with a lawyer. You’ll need an airtight rental contract to reduce your liability.
  • Decide if you’ll manage the property or hire a manager. Don’t miss out on the tax benefits of rental property because you’re afraid managing real estate will take up all your spare time. Many owners of apartments and homes for rent will hire a property manager.
  • Meet with a CPA who has real estate and rental property experience. Real estate taxes can get complicated…fast. However, here at Robert P Russo CPA, we work with everyone from couples who own a single rental property to landlords with dozens of apartments and homes for rent. Our goal is to maximize the tax benefits of rental property for our clients. Now, let’s take a closer look at those benefits…

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IRS Creates a New “Safe Harbor” for Section 199A Rental Properties

Posted on February 8th, 2019

Safe harbor! It sounds wonderful.

Obviously, you are going to be comfortable in a safe harbor. And if you said you don’t want comfort, you might be thought of as a little loony.

You may sense that we are not jumping with joy about this new safe harbor for Section 199A rental property. It’s true; our joy quotient is a little low on this safe harbor because of the work involved.

Our feeling is that you did this work, so your property is a trade or business with no safe harbor needed. Of course, the safe harbor gives you comfort, so we need to examine what’s involved.

With the new safe harbor, the IRS thinks it is your new friend when it comes to claiming the Section 199A 20 percent tax deduction on your rental real estate profits. Read More…

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