What are Opportunity Zones?
Public Law 115-97, also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, allows the Governor of each state to nominate certain census tracts as “Opportunity Zones”. Each Governor must submit these nominations to the federal government by March 21, 2018. Each governor is permitted to nominate up to 25% of the total number of eligible census tracts within the state as Opportunity Zones.
To be eligible as an Opportunity Zone, census tracts must qualify as “low-income”. To qualify, the census tract must meet one of the following qualifications:
- The tract has a poverty rate of at least 20%; OR
- (A) For a census tract in a metropolitan area, the tract’s median family income does not exceed 80% of the greater of: the metropolitan area median family income or the statewide median family income; or (B) For a census tract in a non-metropolitan area, the tract does not exceed 80% of the statewide median family income.
However, if the census tract is located within a high migration rural county, the tract qualifies as low-income if it does not exceed 85% (as opposed to 80%) of statewide median family income. A “high migration rural county” is any rural county that, during the 20-year period ending with the year in which the most recent census was conducted, has a net outmigration of inhabitants from the county of at least 10% of the county population at the beginning of such period.
All census tracts designated as eligible using this tool are eligible for designation as an Opportunity Zone. Note however that this map was compiled using the 2011–2015 American Census Survey Data. If a community believes that a census tract not listed as eligible on the Department of Treasury map is eligible using the recently released 2012–2016 American Census Survey 5-Year data, that tract can be nominated so long as supporting information from the 2012-2016 data is included.
What is the benefit of being designated an Opportunity Zone?
Designation as an Opportunity Zone allows certain investors in these zones to realize significant federal tax advantages. The purpose of these tax advantages is to attract capital investment into economically distressed areas.
How can local governments propose census tracts within their areas for designation as Opportunity Zones?
In order to effectively and efficiently gather as much information as possible in the short time frame available to designate Opportunity Zones, local governments are asked to submit information compliant with the substance and format requested in the attached Request for Information and return it to the Cabinet for Economic Development on or before
February 26, 2018.
All information gathered will be analyzed for submission to the Governor’s Office and considered in the process of determining which census tracts should be nominated for designation as Opportunity Zones.
Can local governments submit more than one proposal?
Local governments may submit more than one census tract or group of census tracts for consideration. However, if more than one proposal is submitted the proposals must be clearly prioritized. Contiguous tracts may be grouped together and considered one Opportunity Zone and therefore, one proposal. Each separate proposal must provide the information requested in the attached Request for Information.