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Trump says wealthy investing 'tremendous' amounts in underserved communities via Opportunity Zones

Brittany De Lea

President Trump is touring the U.S. supporting one of the features of his 2017 tax reform overhaul – known as Opportunity Zones – which he says have brought massive investments into areas that had previously been overlooked.

During an economic summit in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, Trump highlighted the success of the economic policy: a commitment to revitalize underserved neighborhoods.

“Opportunity zones are the hottest thing you’ve seen – the money is pouring in,” Trump said. “Opportunity Zones are amazing what’s happened – tremendous amounts of money being put into areas that hadn’t seen money for decades and decades.”

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Opportunity Zones – as defined by the IRS – are economically distressed communities where new investments may qualify for preferential tax treatment. In order to qualify for the designation, locales must be nominated by the state and certified by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Investors in these communities can defer tax on any prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund until either the date the Qualified Opportunity Fund is sold or Dec. 31, 2026 – whichever comes first. If the fund is held for more than five years, there is a 10 percent exclusion of the deferred gains – a rate that rises to 15 percent if the fund is held for more than seven years.

If the investor holds the fund for at least 10 years, he or she is eligible for an increase in the basis of the Qualified Opportunity Fund investment equal to its fair market value on the date that the investment is sold or exchanged.

Opportunity Zones were created as a feature of the sweeping 2017 tax reform overhaul – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

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Trump brought up Opportunity Zones during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, giving credit to Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott for helping pioneer the idea.

“Jobs and investment are pouring into 9,000 previously neglected neighborhoods thanks to Opportunity Zones, a plan spearheaded by Sen. Tim Scott as part of our great Republican tax cuts,” Trump said. “In other words, wealthy people and companies are pouring money into poor neighborhoods or areas that have not seen investment in many decades, creating jobs, energy and excitement. This is the first time that these deserving communities have seen anything like this.”

One of Trump’s guests at the Capitol on Tuesday night was Tony Rankins, an Army veteran who, after falling into homelessness, now works at a construction company that invests in Opportunity Zones, where he is now a “top tradesman,” according to Trump.

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