Tlaib introduces bill to repeal ‘opportunity zones’

Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Friday introduced legislation to repeal the “opportunity zone” program created by President Trump’s tax law, as the program has received increased scrutiny from lawmakers.

The opportunity zone portion of the 2017 tax law provides capital gains tax breaks to investors who make investments in designated economically-distressed areas. Democrats have become increasingly concerned about opportunity zones in recent weeks amid news reports that have focused on how wealthy people are benefiting from the program.

“The American people have been scammed by Opportunity Zones,” Tlaib, a prominent freshman progressive lawmaker, said in a news release. “Opportunity Zones were supposed to help uplift low-income communities and those living in poverty, but instead we are seeing them benefit billionaires and their luxury projects.

“Our communities deserve resources and programs with proven track records to thrive – the current Opportunity Zone law fails to drive real benefits to low-income communities, instead often rewarding President Trump’s donors,” she continued. “We must repeal them to stop yet another form of corporate greed from hurting our communities and tarnishing our democracy.”

Tlaib’s legislation is one of several bills focused on opportunity zones introduced. Other bills don’t repeal the full opportunity zone program but are aim to improve it by increasing guardrails and transparency.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) have introduced bills that would terminate opportunity zones that aren’t low-income and prevent investments in certain types of projects, such as luxury apartment buildings, from being eligible. There are also bipartisan bills to create more reporting requirements about investments in opportunity zones.

Republicans continue to be supportive of opportunity zones, and even many Democrats also back the goals of the program, like increasing affordable housing.

A White House spokesperson said earlier this week that the Treasury Department is still finalizing rules to implement opportunity zones, so “it’s premature to make drastic changes to legislation that so far has created amazing results.” 

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is co-sponsoring Tlaib’s bill. The bill has the backing of several progressive groups, including The Partnership for Working Families, Take On Wall Street and Americans for Financial Reform.

Tags Capital gains tax Donald Trump Opportunity zone Pramila Jayapal Rashida Tlaib Rashida Tlaib Ron Wyden
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