It's time we start using 'The Investing in Opportunity Act'
© Greg Nash

The recently passed tax bill contains special provisions as it relates to affordable housing. Included with the new tax package is the Investing in Opportunity Act which intends to draw private capital back into distressed communities by providing tax advantages to investors. The original legislation was first introduced by Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Anti-Trump Republicans better look out — voters might send you packing Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-S.C.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy To strengthen our democracy, we need to remove obstacles that keep students from voting Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit MORE (D-N.J.) and Reps. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiThe Hill's Morning Report — 'Sobering' IG report damages FBI Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Poll shows tight race to replace Tiberi in Ohio MORE (R-Ohio) and Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindCongress must defend role in international trade It's time for Congress to step in and stop Trump's trade abuses Lobbying world MORE (D-Wis.) with true bipartisan support.

One in six Americans live in economically distressed communities in the U.S. As an impact invest firm, DRI Fund’s mission is to help these underserved communities. Naturally we wanted to learn more about the Act.

How does the Investing in Opportunity Act work and how do both investors and communities benefit?

Investors benefit by allowing them to defer capital gains taxes by reinvesting those gains into a recognized “Opportunity Zone.” Currently, more than $2 trillion in cap gains are sitting on the sidelines. For investors with stagnant capital, but who are more than willing to locate new opportunities, capital gains taxes can be reduced if held for five to seven years. Capital gains can be temporarily deferred only if they’re reinvested back into a designated Zone.

Such zones are listed as “low income” and designated by census tract. State and local discretion is also a key element in the Act. State governors are able to designate up to 25 percent of all tracts within the state that meet the guidelines used to designate a zone as economically distressed. This puts private capital where it’s truly needed.

Investors are encouraged to pool their resources into “Opportunity Funds.” “Many investors are willing to provide the capital, but lack the wherewithal to locate and execute investment opportunities in communities that need it.” says the Economic Innovation Group. Fund managers will deploy capital in areas that desperately need redevelopment eligible for investment and renewal.

Revitalized communities benefit in a number of ways. As capital investment is placed in an approved Opportunity Zone, the local economic engine begins to hum. Greater economic activity encourages more capital, employs more people and generates more tax revenue for the state and local economy.

Opportunity Zones qualify for investments by Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs. Originally introduced some 25 years ago, a CDFI is a United States Treasury recognized private entity whose mission it is to revitalize communities in economic distress. A CDFI serves state and local banks and financing entities support disadvantaged communities and affordable housing. Individual investors can also provide capital to a CDFI who then in turn pour those funds into needed areas. Although 25 years before the implementation of the Opportunity Act, the overall benefits and philosophies are remarkably the same.

“There are more than 52 million citizens that live in underserved cities and towns in the United States. The Investing in Opportunity Act will provide a direct social impact to underserved communities, helping to stabilize communities and establish a clear path for growth,” said Steven Kirsch, COO of DRI Fund, an official CDFI.

The Investing in Opportunity Act is set to be a major catalyst to spur the redevelopment of American communities and businesses across the country.

Stacey Kirsch is Chief Marketing Officer for DRI Fund.