Opportunity Zones: A Commercial Real Estate Capital Gains Tax Savings Instrument


03 Mar
03Mar

A recent report from CoStar indicated that the latest data shows momentum building for Opportunity Zones.  Last year sale prices jumped for most property types located in the federally designated areas.  The average price paid data suggests biggest beneficiaries are multifamily and hotel properties which is opposite of prevailing overall market trends.  Additionally, fundraising continues to climb, data suggests $1.6 billion has been raised in the first 6 weeks of 2020 compared to $1.5 billion for the 4th quarter in 2019.

Opportunity zones offer a great chance to save on taxes but also requires a restricted holding period of five, seven or 10 years.  If the money remains invested for five years investors get a 10 percent break on the “rolled in” gains and after seven years that tax break rises to 15 percent.  On top of that the gains you make over your initial investment are tax free after a decade.  So, after 10 years if a property you invested $2 million in is worth $5 million, then you have $3 million-dollar tax free gain.

To invest in an opportunity zone property, you must first form an opportunity zone fund.  You must also roll the proceeds from the sale of your asset with gains within 180 days to qualify.  There are existing funds you can invest in or you can form your own.

What makes this different from a 1031 exchange is you can use proceeds to defer capital gains from different instruments like stock gains or business sales.  Also, to qualify the taxpayer must “substantially improve” the property over a 30-month period.  This article touches on a few of the major points but does not go in depth on the opportunity zone program. A good broker can refer you to someone who can walk you through process and take a deeper dive into this evolving and complex program.

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