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Direct Participation Program (DPP)


A Direct Participation Program (DPP) is a business partnership designed to offer investors direct access to the cash flow and tax benefits of a particular business project. Often organized as a limited partnership, it allows the investor to participate in activities such as joint ventures, oil and gas projects, and real estate projects. The aim is to generate income through the business’s activities while also offering investors specific tax advantages.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Direct Participation Program (DPP)” is – Direct: /dɪˈrɛkt/- Participation: /pɑrˌtɪsəˈpeɪʃən/- Program: /ˈproʊˌgræm/- DPP: /ˈdiːˈpiːˈpiː/In International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) pronunciation.

Key Takeaways

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  1. Direct Participation Programs (DPP) allows individuals to directly participate in a business venture’s cash flow and tax benefits. It typically takes the form of limited partnerships.
  2. Investing in a DPP can provide significant tax advantages, such as depreciation and cost recovery deductions, but they can also come with a high degree of risk because the investor takes on the potential of losing the entire initial investment.
  3. DPPs are commonly used in real estate, oil and gas, and equipment leasing ventures. Since potential returns and risks are high, they are generally recommended for sophisticated and affluent investors.



The Direct Participation Program (DPP) is an important business/finance term as it represents a unique investment approach that allows investors to directly participate in the cash flow and tax benefits of the underlying investment. DPP is especially essential in sectors like real estate, energy, and agriculture, where it opens opportunities for individual investors to invest in, and benefit from assets that they might not have been able to afford individually. It aids in capital formation of these ventures, providing liquidity and diversification to investors. The tax benefits involved in DPPs, derived from the depreciation on the investment, make them an attractive investment vehicle, thereby playing a crucial role in the overall investment and financial planning strategy for many investors.


The Direct Participation Program (DPP) is primarily a vehicle for individuals to invest in potentially profitable ventures, such as real estate, energy projects, agriculture, or other types of businesses, without having these assets or businesses directly in their names. One of the key purposes of a DPP is to offer individual investors a direct path to contribute capital to, and share in the profits and losses of a specific business venture, while providing opportunities for tax benefits and portfolio diversification. These investments are typically medium to long-term and can serve as an effective tool for enhancing income and capital appreciation potential of a portfolio.DPPs are typically structured as limited partnerships where investors are treated as limited partners and the management team act as the general partner. This type of structure is used for allocation of income, gains, losses, deductions, credits, and cash flow among the partners. The primary use of DPPs by investors is in sectors where high capital expenses and risks are common such as real estate, oil and gas, equipment leasing, and others. By using DPPs, investors have the potential to share in the financial success (profits) of these ventures while their liability is usually limited to their original investment. Their potential losses in the venture are also typically limited to the amount of their initial investment. Therefore, DPPs offer investors a unique way to participate directly in large-scale investment projects, which was hitherto reserved only for institutions or high net worth individuals.


1. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): REITs are perhaps the most common form of DPP. In this arrangement, investors pool their resources to invest in properties or mortgages. REITs are operationally akin to mutual funds and provide a way for small investors to participate in the real estate market without having to buy an entire property. For example, Simon Property Group, a well-known REIT, allows investors to directly participate in the profits and losses from their portfolio of shopping malls and retail properties across the US.2. Limited Partnerships in Oil & Gas: This is another very common example of DPPs. Limited partners contribute capital and receive income distributions, while the general partner manages the daily operations of the partnership. These partnerships may involve exploration, development, and/or production of oil and gas projects. For instance, Breitburn Energy Partners was a limited partnership that allowed investors to participate directly in the profits and losses from their energy production operations.3. Equipment Leasing Programs: Another type of DPP is equipment leasing programs. These are partnerships designed to finance the purchase and leasing of business equipment, such as airplanes, shipping containers, or heavy machinery. The income from these programs comes from leasing fees and, upon selling the equipment at the end of its useful life, residual value. For example, Air Lease Corporation provides aircraft leasing services to airline companies worldwide and operates much like a DPP, distributing profits and losses among its shareholders and investors.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Direct Participation Program (DPP)?

A Direct Participation Program (DPP) is a business structure that allows investors to participate directly in the cash flow and tax benefits of the underlying investment. DPPs are typically formed to invest in assets that produce income, such as real estate or oil and gas properties.

How does a DPP work?

Under the DPP structure, investments are made into a business venture, typically involving either real estate or energy. Instead of buying shares of common stock, investors in DPPs buy units of the business.

Who is eligible to invest in a DPP?

Usually, DPPs are available to accredited investors, who are defined as individuals or entities who meet certain income or net worth requirements set by regulatory authorities.

What are some reasons investors decide to participate in DPPs?

The primary reasons are access to cash flow, the ability to share in the tax benefits of the underlying assets, and the potential for capital appreciation.

Are DPPs risky investments?

DPPs can involve a high degree of risk. They are generally illiquid, meaning they cannot be easily sold or exchanged for cash. The success of the investment is often dependent on the success of the underlying business venture.

How are earnings from DPPs taxed?

Earnings from DPPs are passed through to the owners, and are consequently taxed at the owner’s individual tax rate. This can be advantageous for investors in higher tax brackets since they might have a lower tax liability with a DPP compared to traditional corporations.

Are DPPs regulated?

Yes, DPPs are subject to regulation from entities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

What are some examples of DPPs?

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), oil and gas partnerships, and limited partnerships are all examples of DPPs.

What is the difference between a DPP and a traditional investment?

The primary difference is that in DPPs, investors have direct ownership in the business venture and participate in the profits and losses, whereas with traditional investments, investors buy shares of a company and share in its profits through dividends.

Do I need a broker to invest in a DPP?

Yes, in most cases, you will need a licensed broker or an investment adviser to invest in a DPP.

Related Finance Terms

  • General Partner (GP)
  • Limited Partner (LP)
  • Cash Flow Distribution
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
  • Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs)

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