Detail

Industry, Investors Await Opportunity Zones’ Clarifying Guidance Amid Shutdown Delay

  • January 18, 2019

The government shutdown is slowing progress on tax guidance important to real estate, including Opportunity Zone incentives.  The IRS cancelled a Jan. 10 administrative hearing on the October proposed regulations.  However, under a special two-year IRS appropriation for tax reform implementation, and the agency’s own contingency plan, background work continues on Opportunity Zone rules and other  critical regulatory guidance.”

The  Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 15 that “there has been a surge in site acquisitions in the zones last year as developers planned for a surge of investments. There were 58% more deals [in] the zones in the third quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter in 2017.”  (WSJ, Jan. 15 and Real Capital Analytics.)

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  • The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 15 that “there has been a surge in site acquisitions in the zones last year as developers planned for a surge of investments. There were 58% more deals [in] the zones in the third quarter of 2018, compared with the same quarter in 2017.”  (WSJ, Jan. 15 and Real Capital Analytics.)
  • John Lettieri, chief executive of the Economic Innovation Group, a public policy organization that advocated for the inclusion of opportunity zones in last year’s tax overhaul, told The Journal, “The sooner you get regulatory clarity, the more benefit is available to investors and the sooner they can stand up a marketplace.” (WSJ, Jan. 15)
  • The Real Estate Roundtable on Dec. 19 provided formal commentsthat encourages Treasury and the IRS to clarify a number of tax issues that would remove uncertainty for potential opportunity zone investors and opportunity fund managers.  The letter was the second round of Roundtable comments on opportunity zones following Treasury’s publication of proposed regulations last October. (Roundtable WeeklyOct. 21, 2018 and Dec. 19, 2018)
  • Roundtable Senior Vice President & Counsel Ryan McCormick participated this week in a CBRE conference call presentation on qualified opportunity zones.  Joining McCormick was Steven Kennedy (Director, PwC), a member of The Roundtable’s Tax Policy Advisory Committee Working Group on Opportunity Zones, and experts from CBRE’s capital markets and research team. The Jan. 16 CBRE PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here.
  • Also this week, Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to former Vice President Joe Biden, authored an op-ed in the Washington Postin support of the opportunity zone program.  Bernstein and Kevin Hassett, current chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote the original paper that put forward the opportunity zone concept.  In the Jan. 14 op-ed, Bernstein states, “[M]ost OZ communities have faced disinvestment and depopulation for so long, they have both the need and capacity to absorb new investment, development and people without displacing local residents ... I suggest we give OZs a chance, while scrutinizing their progress.”

The future of the OZ program will be discussed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) – who led the effort in Congress for enactment of the opportunity zone program – and Roundtable member Geordy Johnson (CEO, Johnson Development Associates, Inc.) on Jan. 29 during The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.  Opportunity Zones will also be a focus of The Roundtable’s TPAC meeting on Jan. 30.