Proposed qualified opportunity zone regulations issued on October 29, 2018 ( REG-115420-18) and May 1, 2019 ( REG-120186-18) under Code Sec. 1400Z-2 have been finalized with modifications. The regulations. which were issued in a 550 page document, are comprehensive.
The regulations address issued related to all aspects of the gain deferral rules and also various requirements that must be met for an entity to qualify as a qualified opportunity fund (QOF) or as a qualified opportunity zone business. Duplicative rules regarding QOFs and qualified opportunity zone businesses have been combined and definitions of key terms added. The regulations detail which taxpayers are eligible to make the election, the types of capital gains eligible for deferral, and the method of making deferral elections. Revisions are made to the rules applying the statutory 180-period and other requirements with regard to the making of a qualifying investment in a QOF.
The IRS will reflect these regulations in updated forms, instructions, and other guidance in January 2020.
Benefits of QOF Investments
Taxpayers may elect to temporarily defer capital gain in income if the gain is invested within 180 days in a QOF. The gain is recognized on Dec. 31, 2026, or if earlier, upon the occurrence of an inclusion event such as the sale of the QOF investment. However, 10 percent of the deferred gain is not recognized if the investment is held five years and 15 percent is not recognized after seven years. In addition, taxpayers may exclude recognition of gain on appreciation in the investment if the investment in the qualified opportunity fund is held for at least 10 years.
Section 1231 gains
The final regulations provide that eligible gains include the gross amount of eligible section 1231 gains unreduced by section 1231 losses regardless of character. The proposed regulations took a “netting” approach. The 180-day period for an eligible taxpayer to invest an amount with respect to an eligible section 1231 gain begins on the date of the sale of the section 1231 asset rather than at the end of the tax year.
RICS and REITS
The 180-day period for RIC or REIT capital gain dividends generally begins at the close of the shareholder’s tax year in which the capital gain dividend would otherwise be recognized by the shareholder. To ensure that RIC and REIT shareholders do not have to wait until the close of their tax year to invest capital gain dividends received during the tax year, the final regulations also provide that shareholders may elect to begin the 180-day period on the day each capital gain dividend is paid. The 180-day period for undistributed capital gain dividends, however, begins on either the last day of the shareholder’s tax year in which the dividend would otherwise be recognized or the last day of the RIC or REIT’s tax year, at the shareholder’s election.
The aggregate amount of a shareholder’s eligible gain with respect to capital gain dividends received from a RIC or a REIT cannot exceed the aggregate amount of capital gain dividends that the shareholder receives as reported or designated by that RIC or that REIT for the shareholder’s tax year.
The final regulations allow an eligible taxpayer to elect to choose the 180- day period to begin on either (i) the date a payment under an installment sale is received for that tax year, or (ii) the last day of the tax year the eligible gain under the installment method would be recognized. Therefore, if the taxpayer defers gain from multiple payments under an installment sale, there might be multiple 180-day periods, or a single 180-day period at the end of the taxpayer’s tax year, depending upon taxpayer’s election.
Partners, S Corporation Shareholders, and Trust Beneficiaries
The final regulations provide partners, S shareholders, and beneficiaries of decedents’ estates and non-grantor trusts with the option to treat the 180-day period as commencing upon the due date of the related entity’s tax return, not including any extensions. This rule does not apply to grantor trusts.
Gain from Disposal of Partial Interest in QOF Investment
Gain arising from an inclusion event is eligible for deferral even though the taxpayer retains a portion of its qualifying investment after the inclusion event. If an inclusion event relates only to a portion of a taxpayer’s qualifying investment in the QOF, (i) the deferred gain that otherwise would be required to be included in income (inclusion gain amount) may be invested in a different QOF, and (ii) the taxpayer may make a deferral election with respect to the inclusion gain amount, so long as the taxpayer satisfies all requirements for a deferral election on the inclusion gain amount.
Post-December 31, 2026 Gain Ineligible
Gain arising after December 31, 2026 (including gain mandatorily recognized on that date) is not eligible for deferral.
Death Related Transfers of QOF Investments
A qualifying investment received by a beneficiary in a transfer by reason of death remains a qualifying investment in the hands of the beneficiary.
Acquisition of Eligible Interest from Person Other than a QOF
A taxpayer may make a deferral election for an eligible interest acquired from a person other than a QOF. The final regulations do not require the transferor to have made a prior deferral election for the acquirer of an eligible interest to make the election.
Further, for interests in entities that existed before the enactment of the deferral provision, if such entities become QOFs, then the interests in those entities, even though not qualifying investments in the hands of a transferor, are eligible interests that may (i) be acquired by an investor and (ii) result in a qualifying investment of the acquirer if the acquirer has eligible gain and the acquisition was during the 180-day period with respect to that gain.
Built in Gains
Built-in gain of a REIT, a RIC, or an S corporation potentially subject to corporate-level tax is eligible for deferral. If the deferral election is made, the amount of gain is not included in the calculation of the entity’s net recognized built-in gain.
Identification of Disposed Interests in a QOF
The final regulations permit taxpayers to specifically identify QOF stock that is sold or otherwise disposed. If a taxpayer fails to adequately identify which QOF shares are disposed of, then the FIFO identification method applies. If, after application of the FIFO method, a taxpayer is treated as having disposed of less than all of its investment interests that the taxpayer acquired on one day and the investments vary in its characteristics, then a pro-rata method applies to the remainder.
The specific identification method does not apply to the disposition of interests in a QOF partnership.
Deferred Gain Retains Tax Attributes
The final regulations make it clear that if a taxpayer is required to include in income some or all of a previously deferred gain, the gain so included has the same attributes that the gain would have had if the recognition of gain had not been deferred. If a deferred gain cannot be clearly associated with an investment in a particular QOF, an ordering rule applies to make this determination.
The final regulations are generally applicable to tax years beginning after 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
With respect to the portion of a taxpayer’s first tax year ending after December 21, 2017, that began on December 22, 2017, and for tax years beginning after December 21, 2017, and on or before 60 days after publication in the Federal Register taxpayers may rely on either the proposed regulations or the final regulations but not both.