“Opportunity Zones” Are Just Opportunities For Investors

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A section of the 2017 federal tax overhaul created what are called “opportunity zones” across the U.S. and the purpose was to create economic investment in low income areas.

The federal government met with state, county, and local government contacts and decisions were made where these thousands of zones would be located across our country.

It is a fact that valuable tax benefits attach to land in these zones, with the ability to defer taxes on gains used to invest in the development, and a chance to have no federal tax at all apply on gains on further investment in the land after 10 years.

Wow. This sounds great and I found out that I own land in an opportunity zone in Berkeley Township. It is interesting that I was never contacted about it, and never told about it, and never asked about it. I have a beautiful ¾ acre vacant lot next to the Pine Beach Post Office and it can be developed as residential, professional, boatyard, or other use.

I had it for sale for $200,000, and raised the price when I found out it was in an “opportunity zone.” It is now more valuable to someone interested in deferring a gain, and making a tax-free profit on investment on this lot.

The absolutely mind-blowing thing is that I have spoken to many builders, and developers, and investors, and no one knew what an “opportunity zone” was. It seems the biggest developers only knew about it and were going to try to buy up the land from (unsuspecting) possibly uninformed vacant land owners and make a fortune from the tax benefits.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about “opportunity zones” in its Oct. 24 edition, and also before that date.

It is only fair that Governor Murphy and every city in New Jersey and the Department of Community Affairs notify every owner of land that is now “overlay zoned” as an “opportunity zone.”

It is mind boggling to know that the land owners were not notified of the potential “overlay zoning” before the 2017 Tax Act, or afterward.

The largest “informed” developers who are familiar with doing large deals with tax benefits are right now making a fortune, or planning to make a fortune, by creating large funds to invest in the development of projects in the “opportunity zones” within 80 New Jersey cities.

They are buying up land, and the owners of that land were often never told by the State of New Jersey or the local Planning Boards or zoning boards or city councils there was “overlay zoning” applicable to that parcel.

The State Department of Community Affairs is the repository of all information and parcel maps about New Jersey city by city “opportunity zones.” Other states have handled their “notification” in other ways, I suppose.

David F. Lipton

Beachwood

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