Opportunity Zones

The United States Department of the Treasury and the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designated that 98% of Puerto Rico is a Zone of Opportunity, under the Federal Act for Work and Tax Reduction (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act). These zones were created to promote local, national and international investment, create jobs and generate economic development in disadvantaged communities.

Investors receive preferential tax treatment. They can defer taxes on any previous earnings until no later than December 31, 2026, as long as the earnings are reinvested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF), an investment vehicle created to make investments in Zones of Qualified Opportunity. According to the IRS, the proposed regulations clarify that almost all capital gains qualify for the deferral. To qualify for tax deferral, that capital must be invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund intended to carry out an eligible activity, in an area authorized by the Treasury Department.

The QOF must have at least 90% of its assets in an Opportunity Zone. Investors who hold their QOF investment for at least 10 years may qualify to increase their base to the fair market value of the investment, on the date it was sold.

The projection is that, in the short term, the opportunity zones will generate approximately $ 600 million in new investments, jobs and benefits to the coffers of the municipal and central governments. Operations within an Opportunity Zone may include: hotels, inns, and other businesses directly related to tourism; agricultural sector development; service to facilities; malls; high-tech companies, research and manufacturing, development of residential and / or commercial properties for rent and / or sale, among other areas.

Puerto Rico has preferential treatment under this Program, since all low-income communities were automatically designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones. The governors of the United States states can only designate up to 25% of population censuses as Opportunity Zones. Puerto Rico achieved that 98% was designated a Qualified Opportunity Zone.

Puerto Rico, being classified almost entirely as an Opportunity Zone, opens up an immense world of opportunities to boost the growth of the country’s economy, developing priority projects, industries, businesses and activities that generate income, contribute to socioeconomic recovery , to diversification and positive transformation of communities.

To develop the Opportunity Zones, the Government of Puerto Rico enacted on July 1, 2019, Act 21 (“Puerto Rico Economic Development Opportunity Zones Development Act”), which establishes the regulatory framework for development in Opportunity Zones on the island, under the new 2017 United States tax Act. The Act provides tax exemptions to Opportunity Zones Funds (“ZO Fund”) or entities where a ZO Fund invests (“ZO Subs”), committed with eligible investments in designated Opportunity Zones in Puerto Rico.

To enjoy the benefits, a ZO or Sub ZO Fund must become an exempt business, requesting a tax concession to obtain a Tax Exemption Decree.