The Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) program provides investors with an opportunity to leverage tax benefits while contributing to the revitalization of economically distressed communities. To take advantage of these incentives, it is crucial to understand the requirements and strategies involved in investing in Qualified Opportunity Zone properties and businesses.

Eligible Capital Gains and Investment Options:

To participate in the QOZ program, you must possess capital gains from the sale of an asset. These gains can be sourced from various avenues, including the sale of stocks or any other asset that results in a capital gain. Unlike like-kind exchanges, there is no requirement to reinvest the gains into a similar asset class. Therefore, you can invest capital gains from the sale of stocks into real estate, among other possibilities.

Deferment and Investment Timelines:

Once you have capital gains, they need to be deferred into a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) within 180 days of the gain realization. You have the flexibility to create your own QOF to hold and manage the funds. After deferring the gains, the QOF must determine where the investment will be made within another 180 days. It is important to note that while the investment does not have to be made within this timeframe, it must be earmarked for a specific opportunity.

Working Capital Safe Harbor:

The QOZ program provides a working capital safe harbor provision, which grants investors an additional 31 months to deploy the deferred gains into a specific project they have identified. This provision allows for more time to plan and execute investments strategically, ensuring the funds are allocated effectively.

Substantial Improvement Requirement:

When investing in real estate through the QOZ program, it is crucial to understand the substantial improvement requirement. In most cases, the asset you invest in must undergo significant enhancements. For the QOZ program, substantial improvement means that you must invest at least the amount you paid for the asset (excluding the value of the land) back into the asset. This investment must be directed towards improving the building or property itself.

Let’s consider an example: Suppose you purchase a property for $100,000, with the value of the land estimated at $50,000 and the value of the building at $50,000. In this case, you would need to invest at least $50,000 into improving the building to meet the substantial improvement requirement. The value of the land is not considered when calculating the investment required.


Investing in Qualified Opportunity Zones offers significant tax benefits to individuals with capital gains. By understanding the requirements and guidelines, investors can leverage these incentives while contributing to the economic development of distressed communities. 

In Lancaster County, we have a total of 6 zones that fall under this program. Two zones in Columbia and four in the Southern part of Lancaster City. Having a local expert and business minded realtor, like Frank Conigliaro can be a huge plus when it comes to maximizing your investment potential in opportunity zones.

Remember to consult with tax and investment professionals to ensure compliance with all regulations and to maximize the potential benefits of the QOZ program. With careful planning and strategic investments, the QOZ program can be a valuable tool for both investors and communities alike.