This article is the first in a series of tax professional profiles written and distributed under The Tax Intelligence Report. This is version 2.0 of this popular tax professional profile series. The purpose of the Tax Intelligence Report is to introduce extraordinary tax professionals and their impact on business and taxpayers. Knowing the high-level of technical competence of the tax professionals profiled through this series is valuable to taxpayers who need this expertise. The tax professionals profiled in The Tax Intelligence Report have tax expertise that has been proven as extraordinary in the world of tax experts.
As an internationally known retained executive tax search professional who has identified thousands of technically gifted tax experts for organizations and taxpayers worldwide, it is my pleasure to introduce readers to Blake Christian, Tax Partner of HCVT in Park City, Utah. Blake Christian is a highly skilled tax expert known nationally as a top 10 Opportunity Zone Influencer. Blake and his team have advised hundreds of investors and professionals regarding the complexities of formation, operation, semi-annual testing and restructuring of QOFs and QOZBs. He is the expert that Partners in other public accounting firms outsource specialty expertise to structure qualified opportunity zones for their own clients. Blake and the HCVT OZ Team have been involved in advising and the formation of over 100 Qualified Opportunity Funds and over 125 Qualified Opportunity Zone Businesses.
Blakes also specializes in holistic tax planning for businesses and their equity holders, profit improvement, economic development, state enterprise zone, Federal empowerment/ renewal community/ gulf opportunity and Indian Tribal Lands Tax Credits.
Blake has years of experience providing tax consulting and compliance services to clients that include multinational, publicly traded corporations, family offices, as well as closely held owner-managed businesses. Here is our interview with Blake Christian.
Kat Jennings: How did you begin your career in tax?
Blake Christian: I began my career in tax at KPMG in Los Angeles, California and helped grow surrounding satellite offices representing middle market and real estate clients at the time. The also firm gave me responsibility to open several satellite office’s which was a valuable experience. I was fortunate to be mentored by a Tax Partner named Arthur McDaniel, now retired. Arthur was a lawyer and CPA and provided his valuable experience with the IRS; Arthur mentored me in how to handle IRS Audits for clients along with a variety of technical issues. His mentoring was valuable to my career and success.
Kat Jennings: How did you begin specializing in Opportunity Zones?
Blake Christian: I have specialized in various federal and state tax incentive programs for three decades and have been specializing in the OZ Program since the program’s 2017 adoption as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). To date, our HCVT Team has assisted clients with establishing over 100 Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOF), and Qualified Opportunity Zone Businesses (QOZB) comprised of hundreds of millions of dollars that are invested in real estate projects and operating businesses throughout the country. The OZ program has attracted a minimum of $10 billion of equity dollars through the first quarter of 2020. Still, in counting OZ fund dollars that have been invested into non-public funds such as family offices, the funding is likely closer to $40 – $50 billion based on panelists’ comments at the OZ Expo.
KatJennings: How is a company or investor impacted in terms of Opportunity Zones?
Blake Christian: Companies and individual investors who are considering, or have already invested into, Opportunity Zone projects will not be un-nerved as much as short-term investors since they are essentially locked into an investment period of ten years or more.
Investors who bailed out of the stock market early and generated large tax gains should look to Opportunity Zone investment opportunities as an alternative investment.
Kat: What is the greatest benefit to investing in an Opportunity Zone Fund?
Blake Christian: OZ Funds allow taxpayers to defer federal long and short-term capital gains until April 2027. In addition, all appreciation accruing over a 10 year or more holding period escapes federal taxation. Depreciation is also not recaptured for long-term holders.
Kat Jennings: Why are Opportunity Zones the talk of the investment community?
Blake Christian: Opportunity Zones are the talk of the investment community. A tax break and social impact combo punch. It is a new section in our tax code sweeping through the country injecting investments into impoverished areas to revitalize communities. It is estimated that $100 billion in private capital will be dedicated towards creating jobs and economic development in Opportunity Zones, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
I also wrote part of a book called “How To OZ” as a guide for investors, developers, and Opportunity Zone industry professionals. The book aims to provide readers, both investors and newcomers who want to learn about the Opportunity Zone industry, with an overview and understanding of what it takes to strategically and successfully invest in any of the country’s 8,700 Opportunity Zones. “How To OZ” will give you some basics about Opportunity Zones. It will also shed light on specific nuances when investing in Opportunity Zones and what issues to consider. We are excited about creating social impact and being part of a movement to create change in distressed areas.
Kat Jennings: You have a lot of knowledge helping the homeless with housing and structuring the deal to make them attractive to investors and family offices. Can you tell me more about what Mit Modular builds?
Blake Christian: Yes, we offer a variety of affordable, fireproof, hurricane and tornado safe housing. In fact, the homes we build for the homeless can withstand 180 miles per hour hurricane winds. There is no need for a trailer park to ever be leveled again given the fact the units can withstand high winds. Another use for what we build is placing these containers in Opportunity Zones for storage units and safe keeping. For example, a media production company can store all their film props into these container units for secure keeping and then stack them in Opportunity Zones while benefiting from extraordinary tax incentives. WE have multiple uses as you can see here: https://www.mitmodular.com/portfolio
Kat Jennings: Can you tell me about the extraordinary MIT Modular Opportunity Fund helping the homeless?
Blake Christian: MITmodular has an OZ Fund with commercial real estate and unique manufacturing operations that not only allows the deferral and tax exemption, but also generates bonus depreciation, tax credits and government grants.
MITmodular is an ESG company which designs and manufactures innovative and energy-efficient modular housing primarily out of re-purposed shipping containers. Their market includes: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s), homeless housing, workforce housing, affordable housing, upgraded housing for mobile home parks, emergency housing as well as special event and retail uses.
Kat Jennings: What recommendation would you advise government officials to do to help the homeless issue our nation faces?
Blake Christian: The government should start by making loans to certain affordable housing projects tax-free to the lender for federal and/or state purposes to drive financing to these important projects.
MIT designs include single or multiple container housing units, basements and rooftop decks can be included for maximizing living space, while enhancing energy efficiency.
For additional information please check out their designs and year-end investment opportunities at:
Contact: Blake.Christian@hcvt.com (435) 200.9262
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