Opportunity Zones Update – Defer, Reduce, and Even Eliminate Taxes

Everybody is talking about Opportunity Zones … and they should be. They can be a great opportunity (just like the name says)!

But many investors have found themselves scratching their heads. How exactly does someone take full advantage of Opportunity Zones?

Recently released guidelines are giving investors and syndicators much needed clarity for moving forward … and making the most of their Opportunity Zone investments.

We sat down with attorney Mauricio Rauld to discuss how Opportunity Zones can help investors like you defer, reduce, or even completely eliminate capital gains taxes.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your zoned-in host, Robert Helms
  • His zoned-out co-host, Russell Gray
  • The “Anti Lawyer” attorney, Mauricio Rauld

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Zoning in on Opportunity Zones

The wait is finally over.

The rules for investing in Opportunity Zones … and the potential tax breaks that come from it … are out.

In case you haven’t heard, Opportunity Zones are basically a capitalist version of wealth redistribution. They provide tax incentives to get rich people to voluntarily put their money where the government wants it to be.

Opportunity Zones exist in every state and in Puerto Rico. These areas tend to be blighted with some issues … they need some gentrification.

Each governor in the United States was taxed with the job of figuring out what areas in their states needed the most help … and where private enterprise could step up, do the work, and get benefits.

We’re not legal experts … but we know someone who is.

Mauricio Rauld is known around here as the “Anti Lawyer” … but he is actually a practicing lawyer who helps people primarily with syndications.

Since we first learned about Opportunity Zones last year, Mauricio has spent his time discovering the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of these types of investments.

The good side of Opportunity Zones

Let’s start with the good.

Opportunity Zones offer huge tax benefits … four in particular.

The first is that you get to defer the tax from whatever capital gains you’re investment is coming out of.

For example, if you have a piece of real estate … or any other asset, like precious metals, stocks, bonds, even your collectible car … you can take those gains and reinvest within 180 days into a qualified Opportunity Zone fund and defer the tax.

You aren’t deferring the tax indefinitely like a 1031 … but you will get to defer for at least the next seven years … until December 31, 2026.

The second benefit is that if you hold onto your new investment for a period of five years, you get a 10 percent discount on the capital gains you would have paid on the original investment.

Benefit number three kicks in if you hold onto your investment for seven years. Now, you’ll qualify for a 15 percent discount on your capital gains.

The biggest benefit of all … number four on our list … applies after holding your asset for a decade. After 10 years or more, the entire gain from your investment is tax free.

It’s all about taking an appreciated asset, putting it into an Opportunity Zone fund, and not paying taxes right away. The longer you wait … the less tax you pay.

One important thing to highlight once again is that the money you place into these Opportunity Zones doesn’t have to be in real estate to begin with.

A lot of the money we foresee coming into Opportunity Zones hasn’t historically been in real estate. They’re in other types of investments where there are big gains to be paid … like the stock market or precious metals.

As always, talk to your tax professional before making any decisions … but if you are sitting on a big tax gain, Opportunity Zones could be an attractive option.

Another positive … there is very little government interference and regulation on this project.

It’s a self-certification … meaning that whoever is putting together the fund simply checks a box on the first year tax returns to certify that it qualifies as an Opportunity Zone.

During your holding period, the government will check with you every so often to ensure you comply with program … but it won’t be dealing with the SCC or going through an approval and registration process.

The bad side of Opportunity Zones

There are some downsides … the bad … of getting into Opportunity Zones … and really it isn’t so much “bad” as it is things to consider fully before diving in.

The first is a rush for time.

In order to fully gain the benefits … to get seven years under your belt before December 31, 2026 … you need to make the investment before the end of 2019.

That means you will need to liquidate your asset and invest in a fund pretty quickly to get the 15 percent discount.

If you don’t make that deadline, you can always go for the 10 percent … and either way you should want to hold the investment for 10 years or more to make it tax free. If that’s your plan, there is less of a rush.

The other important consideration is the substantial improvement requirement.

This requirement means that if you buy a price of property you must put the same amount of money that you purchased the property for into renovations. The government wants you to improve the property.

This requirement only applies to vertical construction … meaning the buildings, not the land.

So, if you buy a property for $1 million and 20 percent of that is in the land with 80 percent in the building … then you only need to invest $800,000 in improvements.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you purchase a piece of property that has been vacant for the last five years … the substantial improvement requirement doesn’t apply.

Remember, the whole idea behind Opportunity Zones is for folks to put private capital to work in revitalizing these areas.

The other important requirement for your property to qualify is that it must involve an active trade or business. This is still a bit of a gray area … but we expect more guidance from the Treasury Department soon.

The ugly side of Opportunity Zones

Mauricio says that when it comes to “the ugly” of Opportunity Zones … a lot of personal opinion comes into play.

Much of the work Mauricio does is with syndicators, and there are pros and cons for them in this type of investment

Syndicators can promote Opportunity Zones as a great chance for investors because of the extensive tax benefits.

But syndicators themselves don’t get the tax benefit for the carried interest.

If this is a traditional syndication, the syndicator will get a cut for sweat equity … let’s say 20 percent.

The investors get 80 percent AND all the tax benefits … but the syndicator will have to pay taxes on the 20 percent they made. They can’t defer that.

This could be ugly … because as a passive investor you want an incentive for your syndicator who is running the project to be excited about the deal.

But on the other hand, most syndicators aren’t going after these deals for tax benefits for themselves. Instead they see them as an opportunity to court capital from a completely new and different source.

Someone who has been in the stock market or private equity or in precious metals that has avoided selling because they didn’t want to pay tax can now work with syndicators in real estate and find a win-win situation.

Another ugly truth … you can’t get into Opportunity Zones alone.

You have to put together a fund … some kind of entity. It doesn’t have to be a syndication … but it has to be a partnership. You need at least two people to get started.

Mauricio also cautions investors to be aware of artificial demand.

Opportunity Zones are designed so that people are investing in areas that they wouldn’t have originally invested in. You’ve got to make sure the investment still stands on its own merits.

Because it is an artificial demand, you could be potentially overpaying for the property in the long run. At some point you could be paying so much more that the tax benefits may not make sense.

Talk to an expert

Think Opportunity Zones might be the right opportunity for you? Talk to your tax professional.

At the end of the day, it’s a tax matter. There are forms to check and rules to follow. You want a tax expert to keep you on track.

And you’ll need an attorney to help you put together a fund, make sure it is structured properly, and ensure the investment itself is eligible.

There are no guarantees in investing … but doing your due diligence gives you the best chance at success.


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


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Podcast: Tariffs, Taxes and Trade Wars – Insights for Real Estate Investors

Peter Schiff is our special guest as we talk tariffs, taxes, trade wars … and how real estate investors can successfully navigate the news.


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

Podcast: Opportunity Zones Update – Defer, Reduce, and Even Eliminate Taxes

Opportunity zones is one of the hottest topics in real estate investing right now. Recently released guidelines provide much needed clarity to help investors and syndicators move forward.

In this episode, we re-visit Opportunity Zones with attorney Mauricio Rauld and discuss how opportunity zones are rolling out to help investors defer, reduce, or even completely eliminate capital gains taxes.


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

Keeping it real in the face of tariffs and trade wars …

When you trade in highly liquid, lightning fast, electronically enabled casino markets … you watch the news like a ten-foot tailgater at 100 miles per hour.

And that’s who most of the mainstream financial media cater to.

The more fear, uncertainty, drama, and doubt … the better (for ratings).  So they pour fuel on the fire.

The current drama du jour is President Trump’s up and down trade war with China. 

Paper markets are gyrating as nervous traders try to time the trends and skim “profits” from the volatility.  Politicians use every twist and turn as tool to score political points.

Meanwhile, on Main Street …

… folks get up every day and do their jobs, collect their pay, pay their bills, and largely ignore all the drama … most of which they don’t understand anyway (as if anyone really does).

That’s why investing in Main Street is SO different than investing in Wall Street.

Because while stock prices race up and down with every breeze of news or rumor … paychecks and rents remain relatively stable.  Boring.  But stable.

Of course, this doesn’t mean real estate investors can afford to be ignorant, naïve, or cocky.  Real estate’s stability and resilience isn’t invincible.

The pain of 2008 made it very clear – what happens on Wall Street can bleed over to Main Street … rare as it might be.

Fortunately, real estate investors can usually follow the proceedings from a comfortable distance … with plenty of time to react and avoid mishaps.

Besides, more often than not, many of the “doomsday” fears just fade into the archives of “breaking news” that didn’t actually break anything.

So life goes on.  People go to work and pay rent.  Passive income flows.  Equity happens … at least for those who aren’t paralyzed by all the drama.

Sure, we think it’s vitally important to watch macro-trends.  And we do.

Macro-trends provide clues about long-term migration patterns … warnings of systemic breakdowns (credit, currency) …

… and insights about whether any key drivers in our markets and niches of choice might benefit or suffer from whatever’s developing.

But once you’re in a market you like based on macro-factors …

… the real work of real estate investing is building and working with your local team … and closing on deals that make sense and are structured to withstand a macro storm or two.

Once you master this, you’re not just a successful investor in your own right … you also have the potential to become a hot property yourself.

Because even though the Wall Street roller-coaster is exciting for the young and daring …

… after a few harrowing experiences, many Main Street investors would prefer to reach for the brass ring of prosperity from the much calmer merry-go-round of real estate.

When it comes to their life savings, most folks want stability, ease, and an after-tax growth rate in excess of real world inflation.

Ideally, they’d love to simply park their money in a boring bank account and collect a steady stream of interest income.

The problem is it doesn’t look like banks will be paying anything remotely resembling an inflation-adjusted positive yield any time soon.

That’s a big reason why income-producing real estate is very attractive right now … perhaps more than ever.

Of course, real estate investing is very messy and inconvenient to most people.

Wall Street and banks are easier, but at the price of nauseating volatility, minuscule yields, and high taxes … now or in the future.

So when YOU know how to produce predictable, high-yield (after tax) passive income through an inflation-hedged vehicle like real estate … you’ll find more than a few folks willing to invest in YOUR deals.

But whether you decide to fly solo or pilot a plane full of limited partners, real estate remains appealing as a stable investment in uncertain times … perhaps more so now than ever before.

So grab your popcorn and watch all the geo-political and Wall Street drama from a safe distance.

Just be careful not to let all the commotion keep you parked in the garage.

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

Getting in the flow of money on the move …

Investors and their money are attracted to opportunities.  They purchase assets, including properties and businesses, in the pursuit of profits.

That’s probably why YOU are reading this.

It’s why we perpetually peruse the news … looking for clues about where investors, businesses, jobs and money might be going and growing.

After all, where people and prosperity are … demand and capacity to pay for real estate are too.

So when we saw this headline pop up in our feed, we decided to look past the political positioning and see if we could find opportunity …

Jobs Are Booming in Trump Country, But Pay Lags 

Bloomberg, 5/7/19 via Yahoo Finance

“ … the 2,622 mostly rural and exurban counties [Trump] won in the 2017 added jobs at twice the pace as they did under … Obama …”

“Red America overtook Blue America … in 12-month employment growth for the first time in seven years …”

Of course, the article is focused on the political ramifications … which is fine for raising your blood pressure or getting unfriended on Facebook.

But we really struggle with all that red and blue stuff.

When we look out the window from the airplane, we see mostly brown and green.  And when we talk to folks on the ground, it’s true there are different colors … but not blue or red.

Maybe we’re missing something.

In any case, we’re far more interested in discovering the investing opportunities of where “jobs are booming” and why … so we can get in on the action.

The Bloomberg article affirms a trend we’ve been commenting on for some time …

“… the changes are driven largely by a spread of growth to outlying areas typical of the late stages of an economic expansion and a bounce-back in energy production and manufacturing.”

In other words, when people get priced out of expensive areas because of a boom … they move to more affordable areas.

Meanwhile, the resurgences in energy and manufacturing are very important economic drivers to watch.

Energy has been a big jobs driver post-2008 … and continues to play an important role in the creation of domestic jobs.

Meanwhile, the rebirth of manufacturing is affecting some former boom towns whose fortunes fell as American manufacturing went offshore over the last two decades.

It’s no secret President Trump believes the U.S. must re-establish itself as a manufacturing powerhouse.  This makes sense for a guy who made his fortune building things.

What may be less obvious is how Trump hopes to achieve this fundamental transformation of the way America produces prosperity.  But there are clues.

We may or may not agree with Trump’s goals or methods.  But that’s not the point.  What matters is what he’s doing and the effect it’s having.

When we asked then-candidate Trump what a healthy housing market looks like in a Trump administration, he simply replied, “Jobs.”

Of course, back then it was just talk.  Now, just over two years on the job, headlines say …

U.S. creates 263,000 jobs in April as unemployment falls to 49-year lowMarketWatch, 5/3/19

Job openings in U.S. jump to 7.49 million — more proof of ultra-strong labor marketMarketWatch, 5/7/19

While there’s more to the story than we can delve into today, most observers agree those are pretty good numbers.

Of course, to get from interesting to actionable, we need to dig a little deeper …

Our good friend, world-class tax-strategist, CPA and best-selling author Tom Wheelwright wrote this in his recently updated book, Tax-Free Wealth

“ … tax laws … have evolved to become tools of social and economic policy making.”

But this isn’t a anything new …

Way back in 1946, then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York gave a speech and made these shocking admissions …

… taxes … serve … to express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income … subsidizing or … penalizing various industries and economic groups …

In other words, tax laws move money where the government wants it.

Right now, the tax laws tell us Donald Trump wants money moving to Main Street.

As Tom Wheelwright explains in his presentation at The Future of Money and Wealth, the new tax law makes real estate EXTREMELY attractive for investors.

In fact, many real estate syndicators are having success attracting investors who are just as eager for tax breaks as they are for the profit potential of the deal!

And now that the opportunity zones regulations are becoming more clear (watch for a follow-up radio show on this hot topic shortly) … it’s likely even MORE money will be moving from Wall Street to Main Street.

For a glimpse of what’s coming, we took a look at the Jobs Opening and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Here are some notable highlights … 

“The number of jobs openings increased for total private(+363,000) and was little changed for government.”

“ … largest increases in transportation, warehousing, utilities (+87,000) construction (+73,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (+57,000).”

No surprise there’s a lot of job-creating money going into distribution and related commercial real estate.

What remains to be seen is whether Trump’s tactics will trigger long-term sustainable domestic manufacturing … and the middle-class jobs that come with it.

There’s been some progress, but it takes a lot of capital to create the infrastructure to support serious manufacturing.

But just as the tax law helps attract billions into the shale oil production revolution …

… the Opportunity Zones tax incentives could pull billions into creating the real property infrastructure to rebuild atrophied manufacturing communities.

Money moving from Wall Street to Main Street.  We like it.  And it’s a trend alert real estate investors are watching carefully.

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

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