WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) introduced legislation to repeal controversial opportunity zones from the United States tax code. The legislation comes after investigative journalists have found political favoring within the selection of opportunity zones to benefit wealthy individuals and their developments. Congresswoman Tlaib has also asked for the House to take up investigations into the designation of opportunity zones. Opportunity zones were created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 supposedly to encourage new investments in poor areas by providing tax giveaways to investors.
“The American people have been scammed by Opportunity Zones,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “Opportunity Zones were supposed to help uplift low-income communities and those living in poverty, but instead we are seeing them benefit billionaires and their luxury projects. Our communities deserve resources and programs with proven track records to thrive – the current Opportunity Zone law fails to drive real benefits to low-income communities, instead often rewarding President Trump’s donors. We must repeal them to stop yet another form of corporate greed from hurting our communities and tarnishing our democracy.”
The Repeal Opportunity Zones Act of 2019 (H.R. 5252) would explicitly repeal the Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOF) that wealthy developers are exploiting to gentrify low- and moderate-income communities for capital gains tax breaks. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.
The legislation is endorsed by numerous organizations and community groups including: Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Detroit Action, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Organize Florida, The Partnership for Working Families, Action Center for Race and the Economy, Stategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Maryland Communities United, Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, Data For Progress, Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment, Arkansas Community Organization, New York Communities for Change, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Hedge Clippers Campaign, Take On Wall St., Churches United for Fair Housing, PolicyLink, Americans for Financial Reform.
“The people who benefit most from President Trump’s Opportunity Zones provision are billionaires like Detroit’s Dan Gilbert,” said Branden Snyder, executive director for Detroit Action. “Instead of building the affordable housing that our city — and our country — desperately need, the provision is worsening displacement and padding the pockets of billionaires. I applaud Representative Rashida Tlaib for introducing a repeal to the Opportunity Zone tax break so that we can get to work actually addressing the housing crisis in Detroit and nationwide.”
Congresswoman Tlaib is currently working on policies that would actually help communities grow and residents thrive.
“The farce is up: Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zones’ only create opportunity for luxury developers,” said Dianne Enriquez, Co-Director of Community Dignity Campaigns with the Center for Popular Democracy. “While these firms receive millions of dollars in tax incentives, millions of people in this country are homeless or housing insecure. Representative Rashida Tlaib’s legislation is an important first step in unrigging the system so that we can work toward a future where we all have a home to thrive.”
The text of the bill can be viewed here.