Along with the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, "Opportunity Zones" were born. Many have viewed, or are now accepting, this comparatively small aspect of the Trump Tax Cuts to be a monumental change in the way America works to improve impoverished communities. Opportunity Zones are designated lower income areas which allow for certain investments to have some huge tax advantages, attractive incentives and long term rewards. To qualify for these financial perks, the investors must make a "substantial improvement" the quality of the estate they are acquiring and they must not withdraw their investment for a certain period of time. For a location to qualify, the area must either have a poverty rate above 20% or the median family income must be below 80%. The wise decision was made to give states and local communities the authority to designate these zones, rather than the federal government. So far more than 8,700 census tracks have been choose, representing 35 million Americans, 10% of the population, with 1 out of every 3 residents living in poverty.
At only 2 years old, these Opportunity Zones are bringing energy, optimism and investment to economically distressed neighbors. These communities have already seen property sales prices increase by 20%, doubling the appreciation rate of similar communities that are not yet "Opportunity Zones". Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin estimated that Opportunity Zones would ultimately generate an additional $100 billion of investment to under-served communities. Only 2 years later and these zones have already seen investments of over $29 Billion. This spur of economic activity has and will create new jobs, lift individuals out of poverty, naturally uplift forgotten communities and distract criminal activity with a feeling of purpose for the future.
To further excel this project, President Trump issued an Executive Order in December 2018 establishing the "White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council". The new council is chaired by HUD director Ben Carson with from NFL star Scott Turner as the executive director. Also, many state governments have since added their own incentives and benefits to Opportunity Zones to even further the impact if this initiative.
Scott Turner has called the whole thing "Economic development, community development, and a social impact". Stating that underprivileged communities "Have never seen anything like this from an investment standpoint, incentive standpoint and from a unity standpoint." The entire operation is working out far beyond anybody's expectations for inner cities and minority communities.
Turner has embarked on a nationwide listening tour, per Trump's executive order. Turner has been to 21 cities in just the past 12 weeks. In this time he's held 65 round tables including faith leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and local communities residents. Turner described the meetings as "investors sitting across from grandmothers from the community" and "local business owners sitting across from Congress and elected officials" discussing how they "didn't have 'x' but could really use 'z'".
Practical examples would include the west side of Atlanta, an are where police often won't even make an appearance. Now there is new housing going up, affordable housing being constructed and even a private school being renovated out of an old out-of-commission church. Thanks to Opportunity Zone funds, Salt Lake City is seeing a huge multi family dwelling being created with a concentration on people with autism and getting them into the workforce. A vacant plant nursery in Tempe Arizona that had been vacant for the past 6 years is now going to become a 4 story, 90 unit modern style apartment complex. These are just a few examples from the $29 Billion that has been invested at this point.
The reason this works so well is because of the dual beneficiary factors for both the investor and the community being invested in. The investors get to duck taxes, make a profit, increase their portfolio and use their hard earned money to actually help a great number of people. Over the past few years there have been over $2.3 trillion in unrealized capital gains giving Opportunity Zones a giant pool of possible and sensible investment funds. The communities benefit structurally, seeing old building and vacant lots being replaced with new and eye attractive dwellings. They also benefit socially, being brought together with a sense of purpose and a brighter tomorrow. But most importantly, they benefit economically: More jobs, more goods and services, more schooling and housing options, higher incomes and greater property appreciation. Ultimately, economic benefits go an extremely long way socially as the best social welfare program available is a good paying job.
So how exactly do these Opportunity Zones work? For example, if you make a $10,000 stock profit you might pay a capital gains tax of 20%. You could instead defer the taxes by investing your profits into an Opportunity Zone. The taxable portion of the stock profit will decrease by up to 15% depending on how long the investment is held. Longer term investment is even further incentivized as after 10 years any new profit that comes from the Opportunity Zone investment is completely tax free. This simple yet effect program is meeting real needs and having a real life impact on our Country.
You can find local Opportunity Zones and other information on the subject at https://eig.org/opportunityzones.