The Financial Management Blog for Surprise, Arizona
IRS Issues Further Opportunity Zone Regulations Guidance
The Qualified Opportunity Zone Program will work only if investors can follow the breadcrumbs to their prize with confidence. Many investors have been paralyzed by regulatory confusion in uncertainty. In the following update, we provide an overview of the highly sought-after guidance released on April 17 by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the US Treasury Department.
Opportunity Zone Program Primer
- The IRS states that all types of capital gains are eligible for the Opportunity Zones tax incentives through the use of Opportunity Funds, which invests at least ninety percent of its assets in Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) Property.
- Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds (QOZF) are subject to specific regulations as set forth by the IRS, namely the types of gains that may be deferred, the timeline by which the amounts by invested, and how investors may elect to defer specified gains.
- The IRS defines eligible opportunity zone property as QOZF stock, QOZF partnership interest, or QOZF business property. Qualified opportunity property must exist and operate in a QOZ, be new to the entity, and abide by specific requirements.
The original Opportunity Zone legislation left eager investors with more questions then answers. Below are some of the issues that the guidance addresses.
- The vague term, “substantially all,” used in various places of section 1400Z-2
- Rules surrounding transactions that trigger the inclusion of gain that a taxpayer elected to defer under section 1400Z-2
- Unclear definitions of timing and amount of the deferred gain that is included in the package
- The approved treatment of leased property used by a QOZ business and use of QOZ business property in the QOZ
- Sourcing of gross income to the QOZ business
- Another vague term, “reasonable period,” for a QOF to reinvest proceeds from the sale of qualifying assets without paying a penalty
Below are a few of the key clarifications giving investors the green light to move forward:
- For use of the property, at least 70 percent of the property must be used in a QOZ.
- For the holding period of the property, tangible property must be QOZ business property for at least 90 percent of the QOF’s or QOZ business’s holding period.
- The partnership or corporation must be a QOZ business for at least 90 percent of the QOF’s holding period.
- Eligible business criteria expand from revenue generation to service transactions and employee location.
In addition, the IRS noted a few situations where deferred gains may become taxable. If an investor transfers their interest in a QOF, e.g., if the transfer is done by gift, the deferred gain may become taxable. However, inheritance by a surviving spouse is not a taxable transfer, nor is a transfer, upon death, of an ownership interest in a QOF to an estate or a revocable trust that becomes irrevocable upon death.
We encourage you to read the update as a whole as it includes additional guidance on the term “original use” and addresses all of the above-mentioned issues. If you are still unsure of moving forward with this investment opportunity, our office professionals will stand by to answer your specific questions and address your concerns.
There are many reasons why an organization’s revenue can slip through the cracks. Outdated technology, lack of training, employee turnover and complacency are common culprits. Accounts Payable tends to be the land of the lost-disregarded and undervalued. Ignoring best practices in this department leads to loss of revenue and poses significant financial risk to your operation. Accounts Payable is critical to optimizing capital; it’s time to shed light on this core strategy.
Taking a strategic approach to Accounts Payable requires a business owner first to identify which practices are holding up their business. Common mistakes include:
- Onboarding suppliers without following a standardized procedure
- Duplicating payments due to workarounds in the ERP system
- Missing the risky behaviors that expose your business to disbursement fraud
- Taking liberties with late vendor payments
- Not separating the duties of new supplier approval from invoice payment
A well-functioning Accounts Payable department is an opportunity to optimize payables and free up the working capital needed to fuel growth. Strengthening your accounts payable department processes and procedures is a big task. Addressing the following areas first will help build momentum:
- Automated invoice and payment processes. Too often, small businesses use error-prone manual processes to approve requisitions, scan supplier invoices, and issue payments. Adopting automated systems will reduce the number and mistakes and increase the effectiveness of process controls.
- AP Workflow. Unless you have an AP workflow in place, your ERP system will only act as a gatekeeper. Without an intentional workflow, manual loopholes make it possible to outsmart the very systems you have in place to prevent these mistakes. Setting up a workflow – a series of checks and balances – will help you avoid these errors before they begin. For example,
- Duplicate Payments. One challenging area for some of our clients are payments to vendors via check and by credit card. To avoid duplicate payments, we often suggest requiring PO numbers for payments made by credit card.
- Three-Way Matching. It is always a good idea to confirm that the supplier invoice amount aligns with the goods or services you have purchased. Failure to do this can leave your organization susceptible to paying for things you did order, receive or approve. To prevent this, consider adopting a three-way matching approach to your checks and balances. This steps triple checks your process for oversights or mistakes. The three documents you will review are the vendor invoice, purchase order and receiving document (packing slip or report).
- Airtight Master Files. Take vendor management seriously before an internal audit. Establishing and maintaining a clean vendor master file will safeguard you against potential fraud. Keeping records and contracts up-to-date will help you identify red flags and make it easier for your procurement personnel to do their jobs.
- Proactive Behaviors. Your organization will benefit from a proactive approach, but three main areas will outshine in the Accounts Payable department.
- Dynamic discounting produces a risk-free, annualized return on investments, simply by leveraging payments terms to your advantage. In simplified terms, the purchasing organization offers to pay their suppliers early in exchange for a discount. This synergistic approach is dependent on transparent and up-to-date disbursement systems and works best in organizations that have an efficient AP workflow.
- On average, fraud takes 18 months to uncover. In addition to internal and external audits, businesses need to commit to regular, rigorous fraud monitoring. Being proactive in this area means establishing controls that look for red flags such as employee-vendor matches, invoice anomalies, or prohibited entities in your master list. Aggressive monitoring should not invoke a culture of distrust; it should instill a core value around trustworthiness.
- A great byproduct to careful monitoring is an instinct toward recovery audits. When a department initiates recovery audits as part of their quarterly review process, they catch incidents like overpayments and pricing compliance before they require emergency mitigation.
- A Thriving Team. If members of your accounting team have made a habit of extending payment cycles or accepting discounts without calculating the costs or neglect to take advantage of maximum savings through volume rebates, it might be time to reassess your staffing structure. Reactive accounting will not support your growth; it will curb your progress. Be sure your AP team knows their value, is adequately staffed, sufficiently trained, and has the right skillsets for tasks at hand. Personnel in this department need to have an analytical mind and the tools to get the job done.
Poor accounts Payable procedures happen in both developing and mature enterprises. If you need help strengthening your Accounts Payable department processes and procedures or if you want to talk about creating a capital optimization strategy, our office professionals can help! Give us a call to start today.
Boulder, CO – The Board of Directors has named Gary Frisch, CPA, MBA of Monheit Frisch CPAs PLC, Chairman of the Technology Executive Committee.
Gary is a Partner at Monheit Frisch CPAs PLC, the Arizona-based public accounting and business consulting firm. As Chairman of the Technology Executive Committee, he will be responsible for the strategic planning of the organization’s technology special interest group.