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The end of the year compels many people to think about tax planning, which in turn prompts us to highlight a feature of the new tax law that could provide significant benefit to real estate investors. It has to do with what are called “Opportunity Zones.”

These zones are economically distressed, low-income communities, and according to the Wall Street Journal the zones encompass almost 9,000 census tracts with a population of nearly 35 million. A list of the zones can be downloaded from this IRS page

In a nutshell, the benefit to investors is that they can defer the capital gains on an existing investment until the end of 2026 by rolling those gains into an Opportunity Zone project. In addition, they can avoid capital gains on the new investments in the zone if they hold them for at least 10 years

Like a number of provisions in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, not all of the details were in place when the law was passed, but the IRS did in fact release regulations about this on October 19, 2018. Apparently there are still some loose ends and the IRS in their FAQ says they will be “…providing further details, including additional legal guidance, on this new tax benefit” over the next few months.   

Those who enjoy parsing the tax code can peruse the current version of the regulations.  You can find more readable summaries at National Real Estate Investor or here if you have an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal

A key takeaway from the Journal article is that this tax break appears to have been designed to give investors reasonable flexibility. For example, it cites that “…as long as 70% of a business’s tangible property is in a zone, the business doesn’t lose its ability to qualify for the tax break.” The regulations so far don’t seem to have a lot of hidden trap doors or “gotchas.” 

It would appear that this tax break provides an opportunity for investors to free up capital that is sitting dormant in properties they’re reluctant to sell because of what would otherwise be a capital gains tax burden. Now investors should be able to benefit from at least one if not two  tax breaks, and at the same time do something positive for their communities.

What do you think? Are you likely to pursue a project in an Opportunity Zone?

— Frank Gallinelli

View a sample lesson from my video course,
“Introduction to Real Estate Investment Analysis”

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Copyright 2018,  Frank Gallinelli and RealData® Inc. All Rights Reserved

The information presented in this article represents the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of RealData® Inc. The material contained in articles that appear on realdata.com is not intended to provide legal, tax or other professional advice or to substitute for proper professional advice and/or due diligence. We urge you to consult an attorney, CPA or other appropriate professional before taking any action in regard to matters discussed in any article or posting. The posting of any article and of any link back to the author and/or the author’s company does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the author’s products or services.

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“You never write. You never call.”

Well, not exactly, but if we’ve seemed a bit quiet lately it’s not because we’re ignoring our loyal followers and customers. Rather, our email service provider hit a bump in the road over the past few weeks, so we’ve been kind of trapped under the cone of silence.

We won’t bother you with the techy details, but they’ve got it all sorted now, so we’re back on track. But if you tried to sign up for the RealData Dispatch or our real estate investor education newsletter recently, there’s a good chance that you never saw your confirmation email and so you’re not on our list.

That would be a shame, because we send out a stream of good, informative material to our subscribers. That includes ebooks, videos, and other resources. We do that because we value our followers, we want you to do well in your real estate activities – and, of course, we want you to remember who we are. And yes, we do mix in an occasional marketing message, but not terribly often.

If you tried to subscribe recently – or even if you didn’t and would like to do so now – we encourage you to use the sign-up box in the right-hand column of this page.

Then check your email inbox for a message asking you to confirm that it was really you who subscribed.

Thanks. As always, we wish you spectacular success in your real estate investing.

— Frank Gallinelli

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A number of customers have asked if we’re updating our Real Estate Investment Analysis software because of the passage of the new tax law, effective in 2018. There’s still ambiguity about some provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which some might prefer to call the Law of Unintended Consequences), but we probably can parse it enough to make a few adjustments to the program. It may surprise you to know that, so far, we see the need for only a few simple changes in the software. But, of course, as technical corrections or other updates to the law occur, there could be others.

The most important is that there are new tax brackets:

Tax rate Single
10% Up to $9,525
12% $9,526 to $38,700
22% $38,701 to $82,500
24% $82,501 to $157,500
32% $157,501 to $200,000
35% $200,001 to $500,000
37% $500,001 or more
Tax rate Married filing jointly
10% Up to $19,050
12% $19,051 to $77,400
22% $77,401 to $165,000
24% $165,001 to $315,000
32% $315,001 to $400,000
35% $400,001 to $600,000
37% $600,001 or more

On the assumptions page, you’ll see that we now use 24% as the default entry, but you can enter whatever is appropriate for you.

Other rates and thresholds – such as capital gain and Net Investment Income Tax – appear to be unchanged in the new law.

Under the depreciation choices, we’re removing what had been called “Optional 40-Year Straight Line for Residential or Non-Residential.” That also goes by the name, “Alternative Depreciation System,” and this year is changed to be 40 years for commercial, 30 for residential. We’ve encountered very few of our customers who use that, so we felt we could take this opportunity to simplify the data entry a bit. We’ve kept the choice of “Other Straight Line,” which allows you to accomplish the same result.

These changes are free of charge as part of a “new build” update. Download this latest build by logging into your customer account at https://realdata.com and going to the “Sign In” link at the top right of any page. If you are using the Windows version, you may also click the “check for updates” button on the Welcome sheet of your REIA program. We are happy to assist you via email, so look also to the upper right for a link to email us

Finally, a side note about an interesting tax item that is not in the program:

We have never dealt with income tax issues in our partnership analysis because partnerships typically pass income through to individuals, each of whom in turn pays tax personally on their portion of that income. However, a new provision in the 2018 law may potentially provide a 20% deduction of Qualified Business Income derived from such pass-through entities.

To figure who qualifies and how much might be deducted personally is not for the faint of heart, but if you expect to be the recipient of Qualified Business Income from a real estate partnership, this Cornell law school has a flow chart might be helpful.

Finally, a note on why we don’t try to go beyond a general estimate of tax consequences in our software. Particularly with the changes in the 2013 and 2018 bills, the tax system has taken an increasing holistic approach. Your other investments and income from other sources can impact how much your overall tax liability grows when you add a new investment to the mix. Pretty much everything is connected.

Analysis of a single property cannot realistically address an investor’s entire financial life. We try to gather from you a modest and reasonable amount of information, so we can give you back what we hope will be reasonable estimate of consequences.

As the year goes on, if there are any changes or technical corrections to the law that we feel should affect the program, we’ll let you know here on our blog.

— Frank Gallinelli

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Your time and your investment capital are too valuable to risk on a do-it-yourself investment spreadsheet. For more than 30 years, RealData has provided the best and most reliable real estate investment software to help you make intelligent investment decisions and to create presentations you can confidently show to lenders, clients, and equity partners. Find out more at www.realdata.com.

Copyright 2018,  Frank Gallinelli and RealData® Inc. All Rights Reserved

The information presented in this article represents the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of RealData® Inc. The material contained in articles that appear on realdata.com is not intended to provide legal, tax or other professional advice or to substitute for proper professional advice and/or due diligence. We urge you to consult an attorney, CPA or other appropriate professional before taking any action in regard to matters discussed in any article or posting. The posting of any article and of any link back to the author and/or the author’s company does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of the author’s products or services.

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