Frequently Asked Questions
(Last updated January 2019)
A new national community investment program that connects private capital with low-income communities across AmericaThe State of Socioeconomic Need and Community Change in Opportunity Zones
(Last updated January 2019)
Opportunity Zones are designed to incentivize new equity investments in low-income communities nationwide. All of the underlying incentives relate to the tax treatment of capital gains, and all are tied to the longevity of an investor’s stake in a qualified Opportunity Fund. There are three core tax incentives:
Temporary deferral: A temporary deferral of inclusion in taxable income for capital gains reinvested into an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the Opportunity Zone investment is disposed of or December 31, 2026.
Step-up in basis: A step-up in basis for the deferred capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis is increased by 10% if the investment in the Opportunity Fund is held by the taxpayer for at least 5 years and by an additional 5% if held for at least 7 years, thereby excluding up to 15% of the original deferred gain from taxation.
Permanent exclusion: A permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in an Opportunity Fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years. This exclusion only applies to gains accrued on investments made through an Opportunity Fund. There is no permanent exclusion possible for the initially deferred gain.
For a thorough overview and analysis of the benefits of Opportunity Zones investment, see EIG’s Opportunity Zones Fact Sheet.
A mapping tool is available on our website, and the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund provides a similar tool and sortable list of certified Opportunity Zone census tracts. Zone designations were certified in Spring 2018 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2028. Any qualifying investment made through a qualifying Opportunity Fund into a qualifying Opportunity Zone will be eligible for the applicable tax benefits through that date. There are currently no policy mechanisms to add, subtract, or change Opportunity Zone census tracts during the life of the provision.
Low-income community census tracts, defined in Section 45D of the Internal Revenue Code, are the building blocks of Opportunity Zones. Eligible low-income census tracts had either poverty rates of at least 20 percent or median family incomes no greater than 80 percent of their surrounding area’s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey.
The governor or chief executive of every U.S. state and territory nominated up to 25 percent of their low-income census tracts to be certified by the Secretary of the Treasury as Opportunity Zones. Eligibility was limited to only a portion of each state’s low-income census tracts in order to concentrate capital and increase the likelihood of meaningful economic development taking root in zones. Governors were given discretion to include moderate-income census tracts adjacent to nominated qualifying low-income ones for up to 5 percent of their nominations in order to create coherent economic zones and account for local priorities or on-the-ground idiosyncracies.
More information on the designation process and a statistical overview of designated tracts can be found here.
A qualified Opportunity Fund is any investment vehicle organized as a corporation or partnership with the specific purpose of investing in Opportunity Zone assets. The private sector is responsible for establishing Opportunity Funds.
The statute allows for broad participation in the creation of Opportunity Funds with the goal of drawing a wide array of investors to support the broad variety of needs in low income communities nationwide. Any entity, from large banks to a community development financial institution, from a venture capital group to a developer consortium, as well as regional economic development organizations and even individual tax payers can establish a fund as long as they follow the guidelines set out by the statute and Treasury (in the process of being finalized).
To become a qualified Opportunity Fund, an eligible taxpayer self-certifies by completing a form (Form 8996) and submitting the form with the taxpayer’s federal income tax return for the taxable year. The IRS has release a draft of the certification form as well as draft instructions.
Opportunity Funds must hold at least 90 percent of their assets in qualifying Opportunity Zone Property (defined below), and will be tested at the 6-month and year-end points to ensure compliance (final guidance on the initial timing of this test is forthcoming).
The policy enables funds to be responsive to the needs of different communities, allowing for investment in operating businesses, equipment, and real property. For example, funds can make equity investments in new or expanding businesses by purchasing original-issue stock of the company if substantially all of the company’s tangible property is and remains located in an Opportunity Zone. Funds can take original interests in partnerships that meet the same criteria. Funds can also invest directly in qualifying property, such as real estate or infrastructure, if the property is used in the active conduct of a business, and if either the original use of the property commences with the fund or the fund substantially improves the property by investing at least as much as the investor’s basis in refurbishments.
Yes. An Opportunity Fund must invest at least 90 percent of its assets in qualified Opportunity Zone property, whether in one zone or across multiple zones.
No. In order to qualify for the tax incentives, investors must invest through a qualified Opportunity Fund.
Treasury is given broad authority to promulgate rules and regulations to prevent abuse of the incentive, and the Department is currently in the process of writing those rules. The statute itself includes several provisions designed to mitigate the potential for abuse and market distortion. Investors cannot simply park their money in real estate, for instance, since investors in used property are required to substantially improve it in order to receive benefits from the incentive. Treasury will conduct twice-yearly tests to ensure funds maintain at least 90 percent of their assets in qualified property and levy penalties for violations. In addition, standard related party restrictions apply to all zone and fund transactions. Tangible property and active conduct tests will prevent zones from being used as patent boxes, and entities whose assets are primarily financial, such as banks, funds of funds, or holding companies, are not eligible for investment.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury released initial proposed guidance on October 19, 2018, which can be found here. A public hearing to discuss the proposed guidance and submitted comment letters is expected to be scheduled for early 2019, with subsequent rounds of regulations expected to released later in the year.
A summary of the proposed guidance can be found here.
EIG has also submitted two comment letters, the first in June 2018 requesting specific guidance prior to Treasury’s release of their initial rulemaking, and the second comment letter in December 2018 responding to the proposed regulations. These comment letters can be accessed here and here, respectively.
Stakeholders should expect several tranches of regulatory guidance taking different forms to be issued as the market matures.
EIG is a policy and advocacy focused organization, and as such, does not make or facilitate investments. EIG provides information about the Opportunity Zones incentive and how it works, as well as data about the designated zones. We are committed to working with all involved stakeholders–from investors to entrepreneurs, public sector leaders, philanthropies, and non-profits–to raise awareness and nurture this new ecosystem into existence.
Too many communities in our great nation feel passed over by economic growth and forgotten by our political leaders. We need a new formula for the public and private sectors to work together to generate new investments, new businesses, and new good paying jobs in places that have fallen behind. The Investing in Opportunity Act will harness much-needed private capital to flow to more American communities and empower state and local leaders to build a more prosperous future. Americans of all political stripes should unite behind this critical priority, and its congressional leaders — Senators Scott and Booker and Congressmen Tiberi and Kind — demonstrate there is hope for the type of bipartisan action that can provide a better future for millions of Americans.
Chair of the Andrew J. Young Foundation, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and former U.S. Congressman
Our network of 55,000 small business owners gives us a front row seat to the unique challenges entrepreneurs face, especially those in disadvantaged areas. That is why we are supporting the Investing in Opportunity Act to provide access to capital and opportunities for growth in more communities in America. Small businesses are the foundation of our economy, and we need a tax system that benefits America’s entrepreneurs and the communities they are building.
Founder and CEO of Small Business Majority
Over the past several years, our team at Village Capital has worked in 35 cities and invested in over 70 entrepreneurs. In these cities, I often hear local elected officials — from both parties — asking what they can do to help startups create more jobs. My best answer: America needs the Investing in Opportunity Act (IIOA). Introduced by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, IIOA is the rare piece of legislation that brings together both parties. It’s designed to encourage new investment in communities that suffer from a lack of business growth. The government has an important role to play in encouraging the distribution of innovation across America to ensure that all communities — not just those on the coasts — get the startup capital they need to help us build our future economy from the bottom up.
CEO of Village Capital
The Investing in Opportunity Act will steer capital to places with deep investment deficits, helping to create new opportunities in places that have long been disconnected from the broader economy.
Senior Fellow at Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and former Chief Economist to Vice President Joseph Biden
At Newark Venture Partners we believe that venture capital done right drives job creation. We come across innovative entrepreneurs every day who have the ability to build something great, and work with them to grow their ideas and fuel the larger comeback story of Newark. That is why we applaud Senator Cory Booker and his Congressional partners Senator Scott and Reps. Kind and Tiberi for introducing the Investing in Opportunity Act, a bill that will encourage a collaborative approach towards fostering startup ecosystems and bringing new investment dollars to the community.
Managing Partner at Newark Venture Partners
With over thirty years of work in distressed communities, at the Reinvestment Fund we’ve seen first hand the need for new sources of capital to revitalize local economies. The Investing in Opportunity Act is an important step towards sparking long-term private investments in the places that need it most. We thank Senators Booker and Scott and Congressmen Kind and Tiberi for fighting to give disadvantaged communities a chance to thrive.
CEO of Reinvestment Fund
Our country is faced with an impending crisis. Communities around the country need innovative ideas and targeted investments in order to grow and become prosperous. The Investing in Opportunity Act can play a pivotal role in facilitating private market investment for local economic development. We are supportive of bipartisan legislation that addresses the economic challenges faced by communities within our nation.
President of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
While the post-recession recovery has led to a widened gap of cities and regions experiencing economic prosperity and those experiencing distress, specifically focused resources in the areas that need it the most can lead to job creation, stimulate economic activity, and drive financial stability. In a time where bipartisan efforts are needed most, the Investing in Opportunity Act provides a bridge to connect more than our communities.
President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council
America’s entrepreneurial spirit can be found in communities all across the country. But while talent is evenly dispersed, opportunity is not and many would-be entrepreneurs in America’s hardest-hit communities never get a shot to achieve the American dream. That is why we need smart policies like the Investing in Opportunity Act to help ensure entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses in underserved communities have access to the capital they need. I applaud the broad bipartisan coalition behind this legislation for their leadership and urge Congress to make the bill law.
Chairman and CEO of Revolution and former Chairman and CEO of America Online
The Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization of more than 70 members of Congress who represent the governing wing of the Republican Party, believes that the Investing in Opportunity Act (IIOA) presents a fresh and exciting way to bring real improvements in the lives of Americans who live in distressed rural and urban areas. The bill was introduced in the House by Main Street’s Rep. Pat Tiberi of Ohio, who’s also the new Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. Main Street has put the IIOA on its list of top legislative priorities for 2017. We are proud to support this measure and we are confident that it will allow investors and entrepreneurs to grow businesses and create jobs in the areas that need them most.
President and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership
In our 30 years’ experience investing private capital into struggling communities, we have seen transformational results over and over again. The need today can feel overwhelming, but with the right tools in place and partners at the table, it’s not insurmountable. The Investing in Opportunity Act provides an actionable way for everyday Americans to help strengthen our nation’s economy and resolve by supporting one another.
President of Enterprise Community Loan Fund
Throughout my career as an investor, one thing has remained consistent: capital is essential for entrepreneurs to be able to grow their companies. The Investing in Opportunity Act will create a new way to tap into billions of dollars in passive private capital, so we can harness the power of entrepreneurs in underserved communities across the country to create the businesses of the future.
Founder of SV Angel
Too many Americans around the country are facing economic hardship and anxiety. It’s great to see bipartisan leadership in Washington working to pass the Investment in Opportunity Act, to incentivize investment in distressed communities, and to ensure that prosperity reaches every pocket of America. I applaud Senators Booker and Scott, as well as Congressmen Kind and Tiberi, for their work on this important effort.
Executive Director of NewDEAL
Advancing entrepreneurship and ensuring greater access to capital is essential to addressing the concentrated poverty and economic distress in rural, suburban and urban communities across Ohio. This legislation represents an innovative approach to addressing economic challenges prevalent in our communities and, if enacted, will create a critical new pathway for investors to direct resources toward economic revitalization. We commend Congressman Tiberi and his co-sponsors for their bipartisan leadership through the Investing in Opportunity Act.
Executive Director of VentureOhio
In recent years, entrepreneurial ecosystems have been taking root in every corner of the country, spurring job creation, economic growth, and cultural revitalization. However, one of the biggest challenges faced by startups in these emerging communities is securing the capital needed to grow and thrive. The Investing in Opportunity Act would help to facilitate capital formation by unleashing trillions in inactive capital for reinvestment in early stage companies in the communities that truly need it — enabling aspiring entrepreneurs across the country and giving every town in America the opportunity to build its own startup ecosystem.
Executive Director of Engine Advocacy
Small and micro businesses are often the chief drivers of economic activity in low-income communities, and in today’s economy, too many of these innovators lack access to the credit and resources they need to start job-creating businesses. That’s why we are proud to support the Investing in Opportunity Act. This bipartisan bill will allow investors and entrepreneurs to build the businesses of the future in the areas that need them most.
President and CEO of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity
As the disparities in economic opportunity rise, we need to catalyze growth in communities across the United States. It’s been my experience, in the private and public sectors, that leveraging private investments is essential to building dynamic local economies. The Investing in Opportunity Act will connect much needed capital with a diverse range of entrepreneurs, fostering the business climate necessary to create vibrant and growing communities.
U.S. Chief Innovation Officer for Dentons and former head of the U.S. Economic Development Administration
The Columbus Partnership applauds Congressman Tiberi and his co-sponsors for their leadership through the Investing in Opportunity Act. This legislation provides an innovative new model for ensuring greater access to capital and higher levels of job-creating investment in underserved communities. We support the direct impact this bill will have throughout the communities in Ohio that are under economic distress, and hope the effort sparks greater national attention to this urgent issue.
President and CEO of Columbus Partnership
Nationally, the needs of communities of concentrated poverty are similar, but the investments needed to meet those needs vary from city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood. From our experience working in 16 neighborhoods from coast to coast and relationships in more than 30 others, we know first-hand that incentives from the federal government can only help if they address the gap in resources to meet the needs of a community. For example, some communities have the necessary public and even philanthropic funding for an early childhood education center, but lack the funding necessary for subsidized affordable housing in a mixed-income development. Others have financing through tax credits and other sources to build affordable housing, but lack the kind of funding or incentives to attract a grocery store that stocks fresh, healthy food. Providing financial incentives with the necessary flexibility to apply them according to a community-specific plan could provide the catalytic boost needed in many communities to attract private resources and begin to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
Executive Board Chair of Purpose Built Communities and former Mayor of Atlanta
If we are going to be successful in building an economy that supports all Americans, we need to ensure that federal policy helps encourage a massive infusion of private capital into distressed communities. That’s why we are pleased to see continued leadership on this issue from Reps. Ron Kind and Pat Tiberi along with Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott. Following extensive and impressive work from the Economic Innovation Group on understanding distressed communities, their legislation — the Investing in Opportunity Act of 2017 — is an important contribution to this debate. It is critical to get more capital into the areas of the country that need it most, and this bipartisan effort is another impressive step forward.
Vice President for the Economic Program at Third Way
For 150 years, The Salvation Army has helped ordinary people work to strengthen their communities in extraordinary ways. Today, the challenges facing our country require even greater cooperation to bridge America’s growing divide. The bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act is a unique policy solution that will channel private investment to do public good. It is a testament to the principles of servant leaders working to give the dignity of economic opportunity to those who need it most.
National Commander of The Salvation Army USA
At SOCAP, we are dedicated to encouraging investment in social good particularly where there are gaps in the philanthropic and public sectors. The Investing in Opportunity Act is an innovative proposal that will connect private investment to those communities that have been left behind. We hope Congress will act quickly to pass this bill, so investors and entrepreneurs can use it to generate new economic activity in the places that need it most.
Co-Founder and Convener of SOCAP
Our country is in urgent need of innovative economic development strategies to bring hope to communities that have been left behind. The bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act would be a powerful catalyst for new businesses, development, and jobs in rural and urban communities throughout the country. LISC is proud to support this important legislation and we urge Congress to come together to pass it into law.
President and CEO of LISC
The American people are more eager than ever for common-sense solutions to address growing disparities in economic opportunity. Millions of Americans remain trapped in communities where there is little hope for a better life — little hope for achieving the American Dream. This won’t change without new investment and thriving enterprise. The Investing in Opportunity Act is exactly the kind of policy needed to connect underserved communities with the capital they need in order to grow. I commend the sponsors of this legislation for their work to bring hope to Americans who feel left behind.
President of The Jack Kemp Foundation
As a native of the Midwest, I know what it means when people say that America’s economy is becoming increasing divided by geography. And as an investor, I believe in the power of capital to allow entrepreneurs in every corner of America to turn their ideas into reality. The Investing in Opportunity Act will incentivize significant new and long-term investments in those ideas while fostering critical businesses and job growth in the communities that need it most.
Co-Founder and General Partner at Canvas Venture Fund
The populist revolt we witnessed in 2016 was fueled in part by chronic underinvestment in rural and small town America. The Investing in Opportunity Act will end this pattern of neglect by steering capital to the areas that need it the most. PPI commends the sponsors of the Investing in Opportunity Act for their bipartisan leadership to expand economic opportunity to these communities.
President and Founder of Progressive Policy Institute
Growing the economy of the 21st Century requires Democrats to work with Republicans and the public sector to work with the private sector to create an environment that will attract and nurture businesses. The Investing in Opportunity Act is a federal policy that, if enacted, holds the potential to unlock trillions of dollars of private capital for communities in every state. It is an example of how innovative federal policymaking can empower local leaders to address their communities’ unique economic development challenges.
Mayor, Salt Lake County
Today more than ever, your zip code often defines your ability to succeed. In rural communities across the country, there is an opportunity gap that continues to widen, and the Investing in Opportunity Act would help address some of the fundamental issues they are confronting. Innovation can be found in every rural community, and helping those entrepreneurs gain access to capital will be a huge step in driving opportunity to some of the most distressed rural regions of the country.
Executive Director of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership
Both innovation and cooperation are needed to tackle 21st century economic challenges. The Investing in Opportunity Act is a strong example of bipartisan collaboration to empower a new generation of entrepreneurs across the United States. We applaud Sens. Booker and Scott, and Reps. Kind and Tiberi, for breaking through the gridlock to find this common ground solution.
Cofounder and President of Millennial Action Project
It has never been more clear that America’s challenges require the collaboration of Democrats and Republicans and the public and private sectors alike. I commend the bipartisan coalition behind the Investing in Opportunity Act for their work to bridge the growing economic divide in our country. This bill is a public policy innovation that will put billions of dollars in new capital to work revitalizing underserved communities the best way we know how — by ensuring they have access to the resources to create the next generation of American enterprise.
President of the Parker Foundation and Chairman of the Economic Innovation Group
For decades, many in our country have been seeing their access to job and business opportunities continue to diminish, falling further behind year after year. Some of the issues are structural and require a rethinking of how we, as a country, make it possible for our fellow citizens to thrive in the face of rapid technological disruption and a changing business and industry landscape.
Yet, some of the challenges have their foundation at the community level, reflecting a basic misalignment between our public policy and the needs of underserved communities. More often than not, the financial resources are not available in the forms or amounts required to drive great outcomes. Solutions that leverage public policy with private capital and market principles can connect the essential capital to the sponsors of holistic community-based solutions that address education, housing, transportation, entrepreneurship and jobs.
From our extensive experience, we know that the public-private partnerships that can be facilitated by the Investing in Opportunity Act will provide a cost-effective, bi-partisan, legislative solution to restore opportunity to the many of the neighborhoods of greatest need, and create healthy and sustainable communities that serve the needs of persons of all incomes. Further, it will provide essential capital to support existing and new businesses that provide employment of community residents.
Chairman and CEO of The Integral Group LLC and Chairman of Fannie Mae
America’s economic recovery has not benefitted all of our communities equally, and we need policymakers to enact solutions that boost opportunity in distressed areas. New development can quickly bolster a neighborhood and inspire additional projects that can raise an entire community. A bipartisan group of Congressmen in the House and the Senate have crafted a commendable solution that can catalyze economic growth in the areas that need it most with the Investing in Opportunity Act.
Executive Director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED) at Rutgers University
Tackling inequality requires smart policies that reward innovation and new ideas, and the Investing in Opportunity Act is a model for how private investors can do great social good through rewarding investments that will help start businesses, create jobs, and benefit the places that need it most. When our communities are creating opportunity for people to live better, America does better. I applaud the bipartisan coalition behind this bill for their leadership on the pressing challenges facing our country.
Co-Founder of Aspiration.com and Chair of CalEITC4Me
Good ideas exist everywhere in America, and the Investing in Opportunity Act creates new opportunities for ideas to be transformed into enterprises in more places. When visionaries move into a distressed area and succeed, others often follow. This bill will encourage the long-term investments needed for entrepreneurs to build businesses and increase opportunity in the areas of the country that need it most.
Founding Partner of Greycroft
Cooperation between public and private sectors is increasingly important to achieve social change at scale. That’s why I’m excited about the innovative new policy of the Investing in Opportunity Act. By creating a new channel for investors to do good by doing well, it represents an exciting opportunity for capital to flow into underserved communities at the scale necessary to drive meaningful economic outcomes.
Executive Director & Professor of Practice at The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University
It has never been more urgent to ensure that our entire country is connected to the growth and opportunity that is a hallmark of the American economy. There has never been a shortage of ways for investors to use their capital for social good, but now we have a way to channel our investments for public good. The Investing in Opportunity Act will create a new pathway for investors to devote their private capital to causes that benefit all of us: creating jobs, supporting entrepreneurship, and revitalizing our communities.
Founder of the Sorenson Impact Center
Mayors throughout the country are facing daunting economic challenges thanks to rising inequality, declining entrepreneurship, and a lack of access to capital. I see all of these challenges first-hand, but I also see the tremendous opportunity for revitalization if we could find better ways to connect communities with the capital they need in order to thrive. That is why I’m proud to support the bipartisan Investing in Opportunity Act, which would drive new private investment to entrepreneurs and enterprises in underserved communities throughout the country. This is the kind of creative approach to expanding economic opportunity that can truly change lives.
Mayor of Stockton, CA
I have spent most of my life in the San Antonio area and am passionate about building a more inclusive and entrepreneurial ecosystem in parts of the city that haven’t historically had much hope. I believe America’s investors should be far more engaged in supporting those who pursue entrepreneurship and innovation in struggling areas of the country. That’s why the Investing in Opportunity Act is so important. It would encourage investors of all types to join together in helping underserved communities realize their full potential.
Former Chairman and Co-Founder of Rackspace and Co-Founder of Geekdom and the 80/20 Foundation