Category: State Legislation

Opportunity Zone Update – IRS Releases Second Set of Proposed Regulations

On April 17, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service released the second set of Qualified Opportunity Zone (“QOZ”) proposed regulations (the “New Regulations”). The New Regulations address multiple issues relating to the structuring and operation of qualified opportunity zone funds (“QOFs”) and provide clarity on areas that include: Meeting the original use test for purchased tangible property Safe harbors for leased tangible property to qualify as QOZ business property Related party rules for leased tangible property and tangible personal property Investment vs. active business use of QOZ land Safe harbors to meet the 50% gross income test for the active conduct of a QOZ business Inclusion events for otherwise deferred capital gains Definitions for the term “substantially all” used in several statutory provisions Special elections when QOF partnerships and S corporations dispose of property after 10 years QOF reinvestment of the proceeds from the distribution, sale, or disposition of QOZ property Application of the 90% asset test to newly contributed QOF assets The New Regulations provide answers to many unresolved questions and present needed definitions where uncertainties were impeding investment into QOZs, particularly with respect to QOZ businesses. Our new article discusses many of the details. Peter J. Ulrich, a Director...

Four Things to Watch After Legislature Cancels Votes on Marijuana

To the dismay of advocates and the cheers of opponents, the New Jersey Legislature canceled its scheduled votes on a three-bill package to legalize marijuana for adult use, expand the State’s medical marijuana program, and expunge the records of certain marijuana offenders. For the time being, New Jersey will not become the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. But with legislators still committed to moving the issue in the future, here are four things to watch in the coming months. Will the Governor Take Action to Expand the State’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program? Marijuana is legal for medical use in New Jersey, and the State’s medical program has seen a rapid expansion under the Murphy Administration. Under the current framework of the “Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act,” the Governor has the authority to permit more alternative treatment centers (ATCs) in the State, and to continue to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions that marijuana can be prescribed for. Governor Murphy and his Department of Health did a call for applicants in August 2018, and issued permits for six new vertically-integrated ATCs. The Governor expressed his desire to expand the medical marijuana program aggressively if legislation did...

Qualified Opportunity Funds – An Important Step Forward – IRS Issues Proposed Regulations

On October 19, 2018, the IRS issued highly-anticipated proposed regulations regarding qualified opportunity funds (“QOFs”). As hoped, the proposed regulations provide taxpayers with sufficient initial guidance to start taking advantage of the outstanding tax benefits available to taxpayers making investments in QOFs investing in qualified opportunity zones. Under the new provisions, QOFs allow qualifying taxpayers to invest capital gain proceeds and achieve two significant and distinct tax benefits, (i) a deferral (and 10-15% reduction) of taxation on the original gains and (ii) essentially unlimited tax-free treatment of appreciation while invested in the QOF. The proposed regulations address several key issues relating to the establishment and qualification of a QOF, as well as the initial investments by taxpayers into such funds. Key sections provide that: only capital gains are eligible for deferral, QOFs may be structured as corporations or partnerships (or LLCs taxed as such), and gain proceeds may be split into one or more QOF investments. The proposed regulations also clarify rules relating to partnerships and create a new working capital 31-month safe harbor with respect to meeting the definition of a qualified opportunity zone business. Our new article on the significance and implications of the proposed regulations discusses many...

Qualified Opportunity Zones – Waiting for Guidance

As part of the comprehensive 2017 Tax Reform, Congress enacted a set of provisions originally introduced in the Investing in Opportunity Act. These provisions present investors with an entirely new taxpayer-friendly investment vehicle. Rolling over the gain proceeds from the sale of any property, presumably including stock or real estate (the “initial property”), into an investment in a qualified opportunity zone (“QOZ”) offers investors the chance to defer and reduce capital gains on that initial sale, and achieve a subsequent tax-free exit from the QOZ investment. Tax Benefits Again, the tax benefits start with a deferral of gain on the current sale of the initial property until December 31, 2026 if the gain proceeds from that initial sale are invested within 180 days in a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund (“QOF”), or until the investor exits the QOF (if before December 31, 2026). If the proceeds remain in the QOF for at least five years, the basis of the investment is increased by 10% (which will reduce taxes by 10% on the gain from the sale of such initial property). If the proceeds are kept in a QOF for at least seven years, the basis is increased an additional 5%, providing...

Tax Changes Funding New Jersey’s New 2019 Budget

This past weekend, Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey legislature avoided a government shutdown by agreeing to a $37.4 billion compromise budget deal, which included significant changes to New Jersey’s business and individual taxes, including: A new “millionaire’s tax” on individuals earning $5 million or more increasing the top marginal Gross Income Tax (“GIT”) rate from 8.97% to 10.75% Business taxpayers with NJ allocated income in excess of $1 million will be liable for a 2.5% surtax (on top of the current 9% rate) for the next two years, with the surtax reduced to 1.5% for the following two years The new federal pass-through business income deduction (IRC Section 199A) will be unavailable for Corporation Business Tax (“CBT”) or GIT purposes; other decoupling provisions were adopted For CBT apportionment purposes, sales of services will be sourced to New Jersey if, or to the extent that, the benefit of the service is received at a location in New Jersey Additional legislation to expand the reach of the sales and use tax to remote sellers in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Wayfair v. South Dakota is awaiting the Governor’s signature Mandatory unitary combined reporting under the CBT is...

Medical Marijuana Reforms on the Horizon

Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature are taking actions towards expanding the medical marijuana program. The Governor announced new rules and regulations to reduce barriers to access for medical marijuana. These include expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions eligible for treatment with cannabis, permitting currently licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to dispense at satellite locations, eliminating the physician registry for doctors who prescribe marijuana, and soliciting new applicants for ATC permits. These actions stem from the Administration’s report on ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes. The New Jersey General Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also recently approved legislation that would vastly expand the State’s existing medical marijuana program. The bill, A-3740, would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for any condition and give greater flexibility for patients and caregivers to purchase and transport medical marijuana. Most importantly, and unlike the current medical marijuana distribution system where ATCs both cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, A-3740 creates a separate manufacturing and licensure system. The bill allows for the licensure of 34 medical marijuana dispensaries that would be authorized to dispense marijuana and marijuana products to patients. The legislation would also permit licensure of six medical marijuana cultivator-processors...

Gov. Murphy’s First Executive Order Prohibits State Government from Asking Applicants about Salary History

Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order which bars state workers from asking job applicants seeking positions with the state about their previous salaries in his first official act after his swearing-in on January 16, 2018. State entities may now only inquire as to an applicant’s past salary history after the entity has made a conditional offer of employment, which includes an explanation of the compensation package being offered to the applicant. The goal of the executive order is to eliminate wage inequalities that result from female employees who accept lower starting salaries and then remain on a lower compensation track, with pay disparities compounding over time. Significantly, at the signing ceremony, the Governor stated that he would sign a bill that extended these same provisions to private sector employers which the legislative sponsors vowed to move quickly to his desk. In fact, legislation has already been introduced that prohibits an employer from inquiring about the salary history of an applicant. Assembly Bill 1094 was introduced on January 9, 2018 by Assemblywoman Joanne Downey (D-11) and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee. Senate Bill 559 was introduced by Senator Nia Gill (D-34) on January 9, 2018 and referred to...