Everything you need to know about the opportunity zones in Las Vegas.
March 10, 2023
The Opportunity Zone program was established in 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with the goal of promoting economic development in distressed areas. The program provides tax incentives for investors who invest in designated Opportunity Zones, which are low-income communities that meet certain criteria. The Opportunity Zone program has been touted as a way to attract investment to areas that have been historically overlooked by investors, but it has also faced criticism for its potential to exacerbate gentrification and displacement. In the latest guide by the Las Vegas Plug I will examine the Opportunity Zone program in more detail, discussing how it works, its potential benefits and drawbacks, and some examples of the program in action.
What are Opportunity Zones?
Opportunity Zones are designated low-income communities in the United States that have been identified as having the potential for economic development. These areas are designated by state and territory governors and approved by the U.S. Treasury Department based on criteria established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
To qualify as an Opportunity Zone, an area must meet certain criteria, including having a poverty rate of at least 20% or a median family income that is less than 80% of the statewide or metropolitan area median income. The designation is also based on factors such as population decline, job loss, and other indicators of economic distress.
There are over 8,700 designated Opportunity Zones across all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The zones are generally located in urban and rural areas that have been historically underserved by private investment.
The goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to encourage private investment in these designated areas by providing tax incentives to investors who invest in Opportunity Funds that are focused on these zones. By attracting private capital to these areas, the program aims to promote economic development and job creation in low-income communities.
While the Opportunity Zone program has been criticized for potential unintended consequences, such as the risk of gentrification and displacement, it has also been praised for its potential to promote economic growth in distressed areas and create new opportunities for local residents.
Investors can defer capital gains taxes by investing in Opportunity Funds. Investors can defer paying capital gains taxes on their profits from the sale of assets (such as stocks, real estate, or other investments) by investing those profits in Opportunity Funds. An Opportunity Fund is a private investment vehicle that invests at least 90% of its assets in designated Opportunity Zones. The investor has 180 days from the sale of the original asset to invest in an Opportunity Fund to defer capital gains taxes.
The longer the investment is held, the greater the tax benefit. If an investor holds the Opportunity Fund investment for at least 5 years, they receive a 10% reduction in the amount of deferred capital gains taxes owed. If the investment is held for at least 7 years, the reduction increases to 15%.
Potential elimination of capital gains taxes. If the investor holds the Opportunity Fund investment for at least 10 years, any capital gains taxes owed on the Opportunity Fund investment itself are eliminated. This means that any appreciation in the value of the Opportunity Fund investment is not subject to capital gains taxes when sold.
Qualifying investments must be made in designated Opportunity Zones. To qualify for the tax benefits, the Opportunity Fund investment must be made in a designated Opportunity Zone. These zones are designated by the state and territory governors and approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. The designation is based on factors such as poverty rates, income levels, and other economic indicators.
Requirements for qualifying investments. To qualify for the tax benefits, the Opportunity Fund investment must be used for qualifying purposes. These include new construction or substantial rehabilitation of real estate, the creation of new businesses, or the expansion of existing businesses. The investments must also be made with the intention of improving the economic conditions of the designated Opportunity Zone.
Overall, the Opportunity Zone program is intended to incentivize investment in economically distressed areas by providing tax benefits to investors who invest in designated Opportunity Zones. By providing these incentives, the program aims to attract private capital to these areas and promote economic growth and development.
West Las Vegas: This Opportunity Zone is located in the western part of the city and includes the historic West Las Vegas neighborhood. The boundaries of this zone are roughly defined by Lake Mead Boulevard to the north, Bonanza Road to the south, Rancho Drive to the west, and Interstate 15 to the east.
Downtown Las Vegas: This Opportunity Zone is located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas and includes the Fremont East Entertainment District, the Arts District, and the Medical District. The boundaries of this zone are roughly defined by Bonanza Road to the north, Charleston Boulevard to the south, Eastern Avenue to the east, and Valley View Boulevard to the west.
East Las Vegas: This Opportunity Zone is located in the eastern part of the city and includes the neighborhoods of Eastland Heights, Parkdale, and Vegas Heights. The boundaries of this zone are roughly defined by Charleston Boulevard to the north, Tropicana Avenue to the south, Eastern Avenue to the east, and Maryland Parkway to the west.
Meadows Village: This Opportunity Zone is located in the northwest part of the city and includes the Meadows Village neighborhood. The boundaries of this zone are roughly defined by Charleston Boulevard to the north, Alta Drive to the south, Rancho Drive to the west, and Valley View Boulevard to the east.
University District: This Opportunity Zone is located near the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and includes the Maryland Parkway corridor. The boundaries of this zone are roughly defined by Tropicana Avenue to the north, Flamingo Road to the south, Paradise Road to the east, and Swenson Street to the west.
It's important to note that these boundaries are approximate and subject to change.
How can you take advantage of the opportunity zones in Las Vegas?
Invest in an Opportunity Fund: The most direct way to take advantage of the Opportunity Zones in Las Vegas is to invest in an Opportunity Fund that focuses on projects in these areas. Opportunity Funds are investment vehicles that invest at least 90% of their assets in designated Opportunity Zones. By investing in an Opportunity Fund, you may be eligible for tax benefits, such as deferral or reduction of capital gains taxes.
Develop or invest in real estate projects: One of the primary focuses of the Opportunity Zone program is to promote real estate development in economically distressed areas. If you have experience in real estate development or investing, you may be able to identify potential projects in Las Vegas Opportunity Zones and seek funding from an Opportunity Fund or other investors.
Start or expand a business: The Opportunity Zone program also aims to promote business development and job creation in designated areas. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you may be able to identify unmet needs in the Las Vegas Opportunity Zones and start a new business or expand an existing one. There may be resources available through local economic development organizations to help with financing or other aspects of business development.
Partner with local organizations: To make the most of the Opportunity Zones in Las Vegas, it can be helpful to partner with local organizations that are working to promote economic development in these areas. For example, you may be able to collaborate with a community development corporation or a local government agency to identify opportunities and access resources.
It's important to note that investing in Opportunity Zones carries risks, and it's important to carefully evaluate any investment opportunity before making a commitment.
Why do real estate investors like opportunity zones?
Taxpayers who invest in Qualified Opportunity Zone property through a Qualified Opportunity Fund can temporarily defer tax on the amount of eligible gains they invest. Real estate investors like Opportunity Zones because of the potential tax benefits that can be obtained through investing in designated zones. By investing in Opportunity Zones, real estate investors may be able to reduce or defer capital gains taxes on their investments, which can result in significant savings.
Here are some of the reasons why real estate investors like Opportunity Zones:
Tax incentives: One of the main benefits of investing in Opportunity Zones is the potential for tax benefits. By investing capital gains in an Opportunity Fund, investors may be able to defer taxes on those gains until 2026 or until they sell their Opportunity Fund investment, whichever comes first. Additionally, if the Opportunity Fund investment is held for at least 10 years, any gains on that investment are tax-free.
Potential for high returns: Real estate investors are attracted to Opportunity Zones because they offer the potential for high returns. These zones are often located in areas that have been historically overlooked by investors, but may have untapped potential for development or redevelopment. By investing in these areas, investors may be able to capitalize on the growth potential and realize higher returns than they would in more established markets.
Social impact: Some real estate investors are motivated by the social impact potential of investing in Opportunity Zones. By investing in these areas, they can contribute to the economic development of low-income communities and create new job opportunities. This may be seen as a way to achieve both financial and social returns on investment.
Portfolio diversification: Investing in Opportunity Zones may be seen as a way for real estate investors to diversify their portfolios. By adding investments in Opportunity Zones to their portfolio, investors can spread their risk across a range of assets and potentially mitigate the impact of market volatility.
Overall, real estate investors are attracted to Opportunity Zones because of the potential tax benefits, high returns, social impact potential, and portfolio diversification opportunities that they offer.
How Opportunity Zones Help Investors
You can defer tax on eligible gains you invest in a Qualified Opportunity Fund until you have an inclusion event or by December 31, 2026, whichever is earlier.
Eligible gains include both capital gains and qualified 1231 gains, but only if the gains are:
Recognized for federal income tax purposes before January 1, 2027
You can transfer property other than cash as an investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund. However, a transfer of non-cash property may result in only part of the investment being eligible for Opportunity Zone tax benefits (that is, a qualifying investment). Specifically, the amount of gain you defer is limited to the basis of the contributed property, even if you transfer a property with a greater value.
In conclusion, the Opportunity Zone program is a federal initiative that provides tax benefits to investors who invest in designated low-income communities across the United States. The program aims to promote economic development and job creation in these areas by incentivizing private investment through tax breaks. While the program has been criticized for potential unintended consequences, such as the risk of gentrification and displacement, it has also been praised for its potential to promote economic growth in distressed areas and create new opportunities for local residents.
In Las Vegas, there are several designated Opportunity Zones that offer potential investment opportunities for real estate investors and entrepreneurs. By investing in these areas, investors can take advantage of the tax benefits offered by the Opportunity Zone program while contributing to the economic development of underserved communities. However, it's important to carefully evaluate any investment opportunity and understand the potential risks and benefits before making a decision.
The Opportunity Zone program is a unique initiative that provides a new way to encourage private investment in low-income communities. It remains to be seen whether the program will achieve its intended goals of promoting economic growth and job creation, but it has already generated significant interest among investors and entrepreneurs. With continued focus on transparency, community involvement, and accountability, the Opportunity Zone program has the potential to make a meaningful impact on distressed areas across the country.
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