The Opportunity Zones ("OZs") program is the largest new community development tax incentive program created in a generation, established by the U.S. Congress in December 2017 through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
OZs were designed to encourage patient, long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities throughout America by providing a powerful new tax incentive for investors with capital gains in the stock market, real estate, and in other assets to reinvest those dollars into special private investment vehicles called Opportunity Zone Funds.
Funds can be corporations or partnerships, self-certified with the IRS, that are committed to investing at least 90% of their capital into OZs.
Opportunity Zones were conceptualized in the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act, developed through the leadership of Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ron Kind (D-WI), and ultimately including nearly 100 Democratic and Republican congressional cosponsors.
In June 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury certified over 8,700 census tracts as OZs in every U.S. state and territory, designations that will last over a decade through the end of 2028.
Per the Economic Innovation Group, OZs have an average poverty rate of nearly 31%, an average median family income of only 59% of its area median, contain 1.6 million places of business, 24 million jobs, and 35 million Americans.
According to the Urban Institute, less than 4% of QOZs are at high risk of rapid socioeconomic change, displacement, or gentrification.