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Proposed Reliance Regs Address Qualified Opportunity Funds, Zones and Businesses


Tracy Tasch

Proposed Reliance Regs Address Qualified Opportunity Funds, Zones and Businesses

Proposed regulations address gains that may be deferred when taxpayers invest in a qualified opportunity fund (QOF). Taxpayers may generally rely on these new proposed regulations. The IRS has also requested comments.

The proposed regulations also withdraw and replace placeholder provisions in an earlier set of proposed regulations ( REG-115420-18). These concern:

  • the definition of “substantially all”regulations
  • transactions that can trigger includible gain;
  • the timing and amount of deferred gain that is included;
  • treatment of leased property used in the qualified opportunity zone (QOZ) business;
  • use of QOZ business property in the QOZ;
  • sourcing of income to the QOZ business; and
  • the reasonable period for a QOF to reinvest proceeds from the sale of qualifying assets.

In addition, within a few months the IRS expects to address administrative rules for a QOF that fails to maintain the required 90-percent investment standard, as well as information reporting requirements.

Finally, the IRS expects to revise Form 8996, Qualified Opportunity Fund, for 2019 and subsequent tax years. These revisions may require additional information, including the employer identification number (EIN) for the QOF business, and the amounts invested by QOFs and QOZ businesses located in particular QOZs.

“Substantially All” for QOZ Business

The 2018 regulations provided that a trade or business satisfies the “substantially all” test for a QOZ business if at least 70 percent of its tangible property is qualified opportunity zone business property. The new proposed regulations generally extend this 70-percent threshold to the “substantially all” tests for use. However, in the holding period context, the “substantially all” threshold is 90 percent.

Original Use of Purchased Tangible Property

The proposed regulations generally provide that the “original use” of tangible property acquired by purchase by any person starts on the date when that person or a prior person:

  • first places the property in service in the qualified opportunity zone for purposes of depreciation or amortization; or
  • first uses the property in the qualified opportunity zone in a manner that would allow depreciation or amortization if that person were the property’s owner.

Used tangible property will satisfy the original use requirement with respect to a QOZ so long as the property has not been previously used (that is, has not previously been used within that QOZ in a manner that would have allowed it to depreciated or amortized) by any taxpayer

In addition, a building or other structure that has been vacant for at least five years before being purchased by a QOF or QOZ business satisfies the original use requirement. Improvements made by a lessee to leased property satisfy the original use requirement and are considered purchased property for the amount of the unadjusted cost basis of the improvements.

Land can be treated as QOZ business property only if it is used in a trade or business of a QOF or QOZ business. The holding of land for investment does not give rise to a trade or business, and the land cannot be QOZ business property. Anti-abuse rules determine whether unimproved land can be qualifying property. However, other purchased real property generally must be substantially improved, determined on an asset-by-asset basis.

Leased Tangible Property in QOZ

Leased tangible property may be QOZ property if:

  • the lease is entered into after 2017; and
  • substantially all of the property’s use is in a QOZ during substantially all of the lease period.

However, the first-use requirement does not apply to leased tangible property. The leased property can generally also be acquired from a related person, though several conditions apply. The proposed regulations also provide methods for valuing the leased property.

QOZ Businesses

The proposed regulations:

  • provide that in determining whether a substantial portion of intangible property of a QOZ is used in the active conduct of a trade or business, a substantial portion is at least 40 percent;
  • address real property that straddles a QOZ;
  • provide three safe harbors and a facts-and-circumstances test for determining whether a corporation or partnership derives at least 50 percent of its gross income from the active conduct of a qualified business;
  • define “trade or business” by reference to Code Sec. 162, except that the ownership and operation (including leasing) of real property used in a trade or business can also be the active conduct of a trade or business; and
  • provide a safe harbor for working capital.

Other Business Rules

The proposed regulations also address:

  • Section 1231 gains;
  • relief regarding the 90 percent asset test, including relief for newly contributed assets and QOF reinvestments;
  • the amount of an investment for purposes of the deferral election;
  • inclusion events, the timing on basis adjustments, includible amounts, and special rules for partnerships and S corporations;
  • gifts and bequests;
  • exceptions for disregarded transfers and some nonrecognition transactions;
  • distributions and contributions;
  • consolidated return provisions;
  • holding periods and tacking rules;
  • anti-abuse rules;
  • special rules for Indian tribes and tribally leased property.

Comments Requested; Public Hearing Scheduled

A public hearing on the proposed regulations is scheduled for 10 am on July 9, 2019, at the New Carrollton Federal Building in Latnham, MD. Public comments may be mailed or hand-delivered to the IRS, or submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov (indicate IRS and REG-120186-18).