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Opportunity Zones and the “Core Four”: Mike Hardy’s Terrific Tax Loophole … And Philosophy for a Balanced Life

When Mike Hardy began to learn about Opportunity Zones, a relatively new innovation in the tax code, he thought they were too good to be true. 

Adopted in 2017 to help drive investment to areas in decline, this little-known temporary initiative allowed states to designate regions as “opportunity zones,” and private investors would enjoy tax benefits until at least 2026 — longer, if the government decides to extend it. 

Hardy told Michael Duncan of The Road to Financial Freedom Podcast:

“The Opportunity Zone investment strategy allows me to sell a property and harvest the capital gains, move [the capital gains] into a fund, defer paying that capital gains tax until April of 2027, and then the best part in my mind … all of the growth that takes place as long as the money's invested for a ten-year window can grow and exit capital gains tax-free. Mind-blowing.”

The “fund” he’s talking about is a “Qualified Opportunity Fund,” or “QOF” for short. Hardy was so impressed by the strategy that he founded his own QOF — the Cyros Opportunity Zone Fund.

Hardy went into the mortgage business prior to the Great Recession — not exactly good timing. He survived through brute force … but there was a cost.

“[I] got some very bad habits in place … I was a workaholic, I was disconnected on the home front … I was an athlete all through high school and in college, and I just kind of let that go. And so it was kind of going through that, that I had to rewire a lot of habits and get those things refocused.”

Today, he is clear on what matters. He is a husband and father first. He has completed an Iron Man challenge. He tries to spend part of each day working on each corner of the “Core Four” — body, being, balance, and business. 

“I've come to the conclusion over the years that more money only makes you more of what you already are,” Hardy said. “And so it's really important to me to be healthy on the inside and have healthy relationships.”