February 11, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Upcoming IRS hearings on Opportunity Zones could provide clarity

The Internal Revenue Service is holding a public hearing this Thursday, Valentine's Day, on the first round of proposed regulations on Opportunity Zones.

Opportunity Zones, created in the 2017 federal tax overhaul, are a way to provide incentives to investors who fund businesses in underserved communities. Unfortunately, there are some critical questions about the implementation of Opportunity Zones that have caused many investors to sit on the fence until they know the answers, according to Mary Burke Baker, government affairs counselor at K&L Gates.

In an update for AWB members, Baker said that the IRS has released the final Form 8996, which is the form that Opportunity Funds must use to certify whether they meet the 90 percent investment threshold in qualified Opportunity Zone property. The IRS also has revised Form 8949, an existing form used to report capital gains transactions, so investors can identify the capital gains they are deferring by investing in Opportunity Funds.

Assuming the IRS has the ability to store the data in an accessible way, and the staff to enforce the law, the information reported on Form 8949 could give the IRS the tools it needs to cross-reference information between investors and funds to make sure investors actually have invested the funds they say they deferred, to track that tax is paid on the deferred gains in 2026, and to tax those gains if the IRS determines that an Opportunity Fund should be disqualified for noncompliance.

AWB is hosting an event on Feb. 27 in SeaTac to provide more information about Opportunity Zones. Mary Burke Baker of K&L Gates will give the keynote at the luncheon. Register for that event here, or contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more about federal issues.

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Restrictive Scheduling
State Revenue Is Growing

Legislative session focused on spending, taxes

By AWB President Kris Johnson

The 66th Legislature convened Jan. 14 and is slated to end on April 28. During that time, the top job for lawmakers is to craft the state's two-year operating budget.

The good news is they have record tax collections to work with -- more than $50 billion for the 2019-2021 budget cycle.

To put that into perspective, in 2011-2013 the state collected $31.3 billion in tax revenue.

This revenue growth was illustrated in a large display last fall at the Association of Washington Business's annual Policy Summit. The tallest of the revenue lines was over 6-feet tall. That was the projection for 2021-2023, when state coffers are expected to take in more than $53 billion. At the other end of the chart, the line showing was just over three-and-a-half feet tall...

Read the full guest column in The Wenatchee World
Investing in Green Infrastructure

LNG fuel is just one way the Port of Tacoma's getting cleaner

By Don Meyer and John McCarthy, Port of Tacoma commissioners

The Port of Tacoma has a long history and culture of innovation, shared by our customers and partners.

Three years ago, TOTE Maritime, a port customer for 42 years, began the process to become one of the first shipping lines to run its ships on liquefied natural gas (LNG), a much cleaner burning fuel than traditional bunker diesel.

Is LNG a perfect solution? No, but TOTE's vision and initiative should be celebrated. We can see these benefits immediately by moving toward LNG now and keeping our trade moving, not waiting for the next technology to be invented.

Our plan to open an LNG plant on the Tideflats in the next few years will give us a competitive advantage and increase safety by not having to transfer the fuel via truck...

Don Meyer of Spanaway was elected to his third term on the five-member Port of Tacoma Commission in 2017. John McCarthy of Northeast Tacoma was elected at the same time after previously serving on the commission from 1983-92.

Read the full guest column in The News Tribune
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