Original use is one of the most important concepts outlined in the newest regulations for opportunity zone investments, according to Phil Jelsma, of Crosbie Gliner Schiffman Southard & Swanson. Opportunity zones require that a property is substantially improved by a qualified opportunity zone fund or subsidiary or the property’s original use commences with the qualified opportunity fund or subsidiary—but what exactly constitutes original use?

“The new regulations provide that original use commences when the property is placed in service for purposes of depreciation or amortization,” Jelsma, a partner and chair of the tax practice team at CGS3, tells GlobeSt.com. “Generally, if the property has been depreciated by another person, it will not meet the original use test and must be substantially improved unless it has been vacant for at least five years. Original use is deemed to commence upon purchase by a QOF or QOF Sub if the property has been vacant for at least five years. Improvements made by a lessee to leased property meet the original use requirement.”

Despite the clarity provided in the regulations, original use is complicated, and investors or owners may not know the property’s history. “It may be difficult for a purchaser to determine if the property has been previously depreciated or amortized by any prior owner,” says Jelsma. “If the property is new construction or was a part of the seller’s inventory, it may be simple but existing improvements are likely to have been depreciated by a prior owner.”

Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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