In an April 15th op-ed published by Crain's Chicago Business, Professor Michelle Layser argues that while "opportunity zone" tax incentives attract investments in poor neighborhoods, they don't ultimately benefit the communities that live and work there.
"...For those who are unfamiliar with the program, opportunity zones are poor areas that, under a new law, are eligible to receive tax-subsidized investments. Companies like Decennial can set up so-called opportunity funds in order to pool money from investors for investing in the zones. The idea, according to proponents, is to drive investments into poor areas in order to revitalize neighborhoods, helping poor communities and investors alike.
"There’s just one problem: If history has anything to say about it, opportunity zones won’t actually yield such wide-reaching benefits. To be sure, developers will benefit from the tax incentives. So will wealthy taxpayers across the country who stand to receive tax breaks as a reward for investing in opportunity funds. But there’s not much reason to think that poor communities will benefit from these investments."
Read the full op-ed.
Note: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Illinois College of Law.