When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was being negotiated and considered by Congress at the end of 2017, most practitioners, developers, and business owners were trying to assess its impacts on the mortgage interest limitation, the cap on the state and local tax deduction, 1031 exchanges, immediate expensing of business assets, and other key issues. In that flurry of negotiation and analysis, a powerful federal tax incentive was added to the law that could lead to a vast transfer of wealth while also funding the revitalization of some of the country’s most distressed areas. That new powerful tool is the Opportunity Zone program.
The basic goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to unlock unrealized capital gains being held by companies and individuals and direct that capital towards businesses and projects in certain distressed areas. This is accomplished by incentivizing prospective investors to sell appreciated property and reinvest the gains into qualified Opportunity Zone projects through offering attractive tax incentives—three tax incentives to be precise.