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The IRS Interprets the Federal Qualified Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced a program known as the Qualified Opportunity Zone Incentive Program under Code Section 1400Z-2. The program was enacted to promote economic growth and investment in specifically designated low-income housing areas — or opportunity zones. It is the first of its kind at the federal level, although states have been using similar incentives for quite some time. The federal program encourages taxpayers to invest in economically depressed areas in exchange for significant — and sometimes permanent — tax breaks. Recently, the IRS released proposed regulations to clarify and provide guidance on various provisions of the program. These regulations are designed to give taxpayers confidence that the tax and other benefits of the program are worth investing in.

Those eligible to defer gains under the code section include individuals, C and S corporations, partnerships, trusts and estates. Taxpayers who want to take advantage of the program must do so by utilizing a qualifying intermediary to invest in one or more opportunity zones. These intermediaries, called Qualified Opportunity Funds, must keep at least 90 percent of their assets in “QOZ property.” QOZ business property, QOZ stock and QOZ partnership interests can all qualify as QOZ property.

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