opportunity zones

Opportunity Zone guidance leaves critical questions unanswered

The U.S. Treasury released a new set of proposed guidelines around Opportunity Zones. The new regulations would provide many clarifications about eligibility and timing, but do little to address critical concerns for potential zone-based seed and venture capital investment funds. Additional guidance is forthcoming, but there is no timetable for this release. Meanwhile, the latest regulations are subject to comment once published in the Federal Register.

Treasury releases Opportunity Zone Guidance, states begin releasing RFIs

The IRS and CDFI Fund released their first guidance for the federal Opportunity Zones incentive. This wave of guidance addresses zone selection issues only — the most important clarification is that the certification window will expire on March 21, with the option to request one 30-day extension. The guidance includes a list of all eligible census tracts, which were covered by SSTI last week, as well as a list of tracts that are not low-to-moderate income but may be included in contiguous Qualified Opportunity Zones.

Useful stats: Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts by state

The recent tax law created a new vehicle, “Opportunity Zones” (Section 13823), to spur investment in companies and projects in distressed communities. As covered in detail during a recent SSTI members-only webinar, the tax incentive provides investors who reinvest capital gains into these zones with the ability to defer taxes on those gains and, if the Opportunity Zone investment is held at least 10 years, to waive taxes on any new capital gains. Zones must be declared this spring by each state’s governor, and only 25 percent of a state’s high poverty or low income census tracts may be included.

What the tax plan means for innovation

The Republican tax plan passed Congress this week. The legislation, which is part tax cut — $1.5 trillion over 10 years — and part reform — replacing multiple deductions and credits with overall lower rates — will affect the U.S. economy for years to come. Education, employment, capital access and business investment are likely to be directly affected as soon as next year, and, if state budgets hold any value as predictors, regional innovation economies will be particularly affected through future reductions in federal spending.

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