Trump opportunity zones popular with investors, but might offer less for voters

The idea behind the investment and incentive program isn’t new. State and local governments have used tax incentives for decades to create enterprise zones to attract investment.

The new rules announced Friday outline a series of tax breaks for development in some of the poorest communities in the country, that are home to nearly 35 million Americans.

  • Based on recent Census data, the designated census tracts had an average poverty rate of over 32 percent, nearly twice the national average.
  • Median family incomes average 37 percent below the area or state median, and unemployment rates were nearly 1.6 times higher than average.
  • These targeted Opportunity Zones are also twice as likely to be located in a county that had reported a poverty rate of at least 20 percent for 30 years.

The plan has already drawn strong interest from investors. Last month, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted that the new program would generate more than $100 billion in fresh capital for projects in targeted neighborhoods.

Investors in these designated zones stand to gain from generous tax benefits for qualified projects. Under the new rules, capital gains generated through a certified opportunity zone fund will not be taxed through the end of 2026 or when the investment is sold, whichever comes first.

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