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November 14, 2019

King Seeking Reforms to Opportunity Zone Program to Better Benefit Low-Income Communities

Bill would require public reporting, tighten rules, and terminate zones that do not qualify as low-income

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his support of the Opportunity Zone Reporting and Reform Act to overhaul the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)’s Opportunity Zone program, which was created to incentivize investment in low-income communities. The bill would require qualified investors to submit annual informational returns on their Opportunity Zone investments, bringing essential transparency to a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 program that likely has produced wasteful tax expenditures. Since the implementation of the program, the lack of transparency, absence of reporting requirements, and questionable zone designations have raised the need for increased requirements and reform of the program itself.

“The road to bad legislation is paved with good intentions and rushed processes. The Opportunity Zone program has strong potential and noble goals – in fact, it is one of the few provisions of the 2017 tax bill that truly focused on helping low-income communities,” said Senator King. “However, the implementation of this program has been beset by flaws that limit transparency and direct money away from areas in need. These are serious problems, which undermine the worthwhile goals of Opportunity Zones. Let’s work together to improve this program, so we can redirect the funding to folks who truly need help.”

Additionally, the legislation would:  

  • Require annual, public information reporting from Opportunity Funds and annual statements to the IRS from fund investors.
  • Eliminate loopholes that could allow “sin list” investments like casinos and prohibit investments in stadiums and luxury apartments.
  • Terminate zones that are not low-income or impoverished, while allowing states to replace zones that are terminated.
  • Tighten existing rules to ensure that this generous incentive goes to productive, new investments that are actually in zones, and not to projects that were already underway or investors trying to park their money tax-free.

Senator King has been a vocal critic of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, criticizing its rushed process and substantial increases to the national debt – including conducting research in August detailing the way tax cuts enacted in the past two decades have exacerbated the U.S.’s growing debt. He has worked to reverse provisions of the legislation which negatively impact Maine families since its passage in late 2017; for example, in July, Senator King cosponsored a bill that will reverse a 2017 tax bill provision causing cooperative organizations to lose their non-profit status by accepting federal grant funding. In May, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that Senator King cosponsored to provide financial relief for Gold Star families impacting by higher taxes. Earlier that month, he pushed to correct an imbalance and ensure the same tax treatment for towable RVs as motorized RVs – a provision that was harming Maine auto dealers. In April, Senator King cosponsored bipartisan legislation to ensure that all federal employees who qualify to have their moving costs reimbursed by the government are also repaid for the taxes owed on relocation reimbursements – a longstanding fiscal policy that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated. Senator King was named a 2016 ‘Fiscal Hero’ by the nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt.

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