Viewpoint: Treasury Risks Dropping the Ball on Opportunity Zones Accountability
By Fran Seegull
Opportunity Zones have inspired hope for many, but also a growing fear. The hope is that the tax break will spur investment in distressed communities where real wages are falling and rents are rising, where small businesses are closing and inequality is widening. The fear, for proponents and critics alike, is that greedy speculators will run up the tab for taxpayers while harming current residents.
The die will be cast when the Treasury Department releases final regulations governing Opportunity Zones. It’s up to Treasury to weigh these risks against the potential returns for our communities.
By some estimates, more than $1 billion will flow into Opportunity Zones this year, with more capital expected to follow. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars will be forgone as a result, money that otherwise could have gone to vital services or infrastructure. But if this massive public investment pays off, we’ll see revitalized local economies and millions of Americans will share in the dividend.
Photo courtesy of Mike Boening Photography.