The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included the creation of Opportunity Zones, a new tax incentive aimed at increasing private investment in low-income census tracts. Investors in these zones will receive preferential tax treatment when they invest in a newly created “Opportunity Fund.”
In March 2018 Governor Phil Scott designated 25 census tracts in 17 Vermont communities as Opportunity Zones (click here to view map).
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development is working with these communities to take full advantage of the Opportunity Zone program.
The Agency held an Opportunity Zone Summit in June 2018 that aimed to educate communities, investors, and potential project champions about the program. Deputy Secretary Ted Brady provided an outline of how the zones were selected in Vermont. Kenan Fikri of the Economic Innovation Group provided a national perspective. Stephen Trenholm of Gallagher, Flynn & Co. outlined the anticipated tax benefits. And Craig Miskovich of Downs Rachlin Martin provided a Vermont developer’s perspective.
In October of 2018, the Internal Revenue Service and the IRS issued a draft rule concerning the Opportunity Zone program, a revised revenue regulation, and a new draft tax form used to create an Opportunity Fund.
In June 2019, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development convened representatives of each Vermont Opportunity Zone to participate in a workshop to develop project prospectuses.
- Colin Higgins of The Governance Project provided guidance and examples from municipalities across the country. (view slide show)
- Stephen Trenholm of Gallagher, Flynn discussed details of tax incentives achieved through the program. (view slide show)
- Drew Kervick of Dunkiel Saunders and Shannon Lenzini of Downs Rachlin and Martin shared real estate and legal perspectives. (view slide show)
- John Adams, director of the Vermont Center for Geographic Information, demonstrated how data can help municipalities tell their stories to ensure project success. (view slide show)
- Skye Morse and Katie Stuart-Buckley of M&S Development shared the story of how the Putnam Block development in Bennington obtained Opportunity Funds. (view slide show)
Participants in this workshop will reconvene in September 2019 to finalize their prospectuses.
Additional resources concerning the designation of Opportunity Zones can be found below.