On Thursday, May 17, 2018, LISC CEO and president Maurice A. Jones testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, urging its members to implement Opportunity Zones in ways that will truly benefit Americans in under invested communities. The policy can spur billions in private investment in the country’s most distressed census tracts and play a major role in closing the opportunity gap, he said. But we need federal tax incentives and other strategies to help the program succeed.
I am pleased to be able to join you this morning to discuss Opportunity Zones. LISC championed the Investing in Opportunity Act (IIOA) legislation that became the foundation for the Opportunity Zones initiative, and were pleased to see this enacted in December of 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
Based largely on LISC’s experience working in low income communities, and our deployment of private sector capital through tax credit investments like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and New Markets Tax Credit, we believe the Opportunity Zones initiative has tremendous potential to attract new investment capital into low income urban and rural communities. Though still early in the implementation phase, there is already great energy in the community development sector in support of this program. We are pleased that all states and territories have elected to identify Opportunity Zones, and that they generally appear to have targeted geographic areas that are in need of incentives for investment.
That being said, we know there is much uncertainty ahead. Congress may need to adopt some technical corrections to ensure better program outcomes. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must enact regulations and guidance that not only provides investors with the clarity and certainty necessary to make investments in Opportunity Funds, but also protects against program abuse and helps ensure the integrity of the program. Finally, it will be necessary for states, localities and community development practitioners to work together to identify a largely untapped network of investors and to help steer this capital to communities of opportunity, so that the Opportunity Zones initiative lives up to its great promise. Download full statement [+]...
Download the full written testimony Maurice A. Jones submitted to the Joint Economic Committee.
Download the full oral statement Maurice A. Jones gave to the Joint Economic Committee.
Want to learn more? Check out New Market Support Company’s resources, including our comment letter to the IRS, an Opportunity Zone overview presentation and webinar recording.