Detroit Metro Times: Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduces bill to repeal ‘Opportunity Zones’: ‘The American people have been scammed’

Nov 22, 2019
In the News

Lee DeVito

dmt

Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced legislation to repeal the controversial “Opportunity Zones” from the United States tax code on Friday, following a series of bombshell ProPublica reports that found billionaires like Detroit’s Dan Gilbert were benefiting from the laws.

The Repeal Opportunity Zones Act of 2019 (H.R. 5252) would explicitly repeal the Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOF) by amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of the state of Washington.

“The American people have been scammed by Opportunity Zones,” Tlaib said in a statement. “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.”

Gilbert’s Quicken Loans donated $750,000 to Trump’s record-breaking $107 million inauguration committee, which is being investigated by federal prosecutors for potential money laundering, among other things. A ProPublica report published last month found that Gilbert appeared to receive preferential treatment in Michigan’s implementation of the Opportunity Zones, and a tract of land in downtown Detroit that should have been deemed ineligible got mysteriously added to the list of eligible tracts after an email was sent suggesting coordination between the White House and Quicken Loans. Quicken Loans reps have essentially called the story “fake news,” though they did not debunk many of its key findings. And even if some of Gilbert’s real estate projects don’t qualify for Opportunity Zone tax breaks, Gilbert would still stand to benefit, as property values tend to go up inside the Zones.

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