As Democratic presidential candidates promise to repeal the 2017 tax reform law and trip over themselves trying to determine who wants to tax Americans at the highest rates, it’s important to remember one thing: the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) is working.
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I wrote and championed a key part of the tax reform package aimed at helping our communities most in need, the Opportunity Zones initiative. Chosen by governors and mayors, not Washington bureaucrats, Opportunity Zones and the communities within them have an average poverty rate of 28.9 percent, more than double the national average.
Additionally, nearly three-quarters of Opportunity Zones meet the U.S. Treasury Department’s definition of “severely distressed.” While detractors of the initiative want to either cherry pick examples of certain investments or blindly predict who may or may not use them (see Amazon and New York City), let’s look at the facts.
In my home state of South Carolina, there’s a new $54 million tech corridor that’s finally becoming a reality in an Opportunity Zone. And on top of that, in August, a non-profit announced a fund to construct rural health-care facilities and make health care accessibility a reality for our rural communities.
Nationwide, we can look at Wilmington, Delaware, and the construction of an innovative vertical farm that will work to employ formerly incarcerated individuals. In Newark, New Jersey a $40 million fund has been created to provide housing for our nation’s school teachers.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama is slated to see a major investment for a teaching hotel and mixed-use building to be located near a local HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
In New Orleans, Launch Pad is raising a fund to invest in businesses and entrepreneurs located in Opportunity Zones and will continue expanding to Opportunity Zones in multiple new cities where it will provide coworking space, business development training and support for business owners and entrepreneurs.
When small businesses and entrepreneurs are able to grow and hire, these are the type of effects we see. Tax reform’s reshaping of our corporate tax system has given a wide variety of industries and business sectors the freedom to expand, and the American people are the ones reaping the benefits.
These are just a few of the examples of what can be accomplished in Opportunity Zones, and there undoubtedly will be many more to come.
Since joining the Senate in 2013, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., has been a national leader on efforts to bring opportunity to every American family. His signature legislation creating Opportunity Zones was passed as part of the 2017 tax reform package, and has the potential to bring billions of dollars of private investment into distressed communities across the country.