Lawmakers often tout pro-gentrification tax incentives such as the new federal “opportunity zone” tax incentive – the tax break offered to developers in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 – as tools to promote capital investment in poor neighborhoods.
While they traditionally enjoy significant bipartisan support, place-based tax incentives are often disappointing to anti-poverty advocates. But what many advocates regard as a flaw of such incentives – specifically, the lack of safeguards to protect poor communities – may actually be a feature of the policy, says a new paper from Professor Michelle Layser, an expert on the intersection of tax law and social policy.
“None of these laws have been designed in a way in which we should expect that they would help poor communities,” Layser said. “This is not to say that they couldn’t be designed with communities in mind. They absolutely could be. But the political, economic and legal environment under which these laws have been crafted and come to be used over time has not been conducive to such pro-community goals.”
Layser spoke to the Illinois News Bureau about the paper, forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review, and her findings.
Read the full interview.