Legislators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reform Opportunity Zone Incentives
April 8, 2022
Members of Congress introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation yesterday to update and amend the Opportunity Zones (OZs) program. If enacted, the bill would extend expired OZ benefits, sunset certain high-income OZ census tracts, and apply additional information reporting requirements for opportunity funds and their investors. (Congressional news release, April 7)
The bill includes a Roundtable-requested, 2-year extension of the initial capital gains deferral period for prior gain that is rolled into an opportunity fund by an investor. (Roundtable Comment letters: Dec. 21, 2021 and May 14, 2020)
The 2-year extension, from the end of 2026 until the end of 2028, will allow OZ investors to benefit from a partial step-up in basis that reduces their tax liability on their prior gain if their opportunity fund investment is maintained for at least 5 years. The extension would help OZs continue attracting capital and investment that is boosting job growth and supporting the local tax base in these communities.
Other provisions include a detailed process for sunsetting certain high-income census tracts from the OZ program; new information reporting rules for Opportunity Funds and investors; and creation of a $1 billion State and Community Dynamism Fund to support OZ projects and businesses in underserved communities.
Census tracts subject to the sunset provision include those with a median family income that exceeds 130 percent of the national median. The sunset includes transition rules that grandfather in existing and planned investments.
The information reporting proposals were previously introduced by Senator Scott in 2019. They aim to improve program transparency and facilitate improved tracking of the OZ investment outcomes in the designated communities. The Roundtable and other real estate organizations previously encouraged Congress to adopt enhanced OZ information reporting, data collection, and transparency measures. (Roundtable Comment letter: Dec. 21, 2021)
In the short time since their enactment, Opportunity Zones have created jobs and spurred billions of dollars in new investment in economically struggling communities. The Roundtable worked closely with Members of Congress and the Treasury Department to ensure OZ implementing regulations would facilitate the program’s success, and has long-supported OZ legislation that could spur greater investment, promote capital formation and bolster job growth in economically disadvantaged communities. (Roundtable Weekly: May 15, 2020 and (Roundtable Comment letter: Dec. 21, 2021)
In the current legislative environment, prospects for the new bill are uncertain, but it will likely be the basis for any serious consideration of OZ changes going forward.