Subsidy Sheet: More evidence that Opportunity Zones don’t work


We are waiting for New York’s delayed budget, which hopefully will contain no new corporate subsidies, and may even reduce some old ones. (Did we really write that? Wow.) 

Meanwhile, we want to share a new report from the national watchdogs at Good Jobs First. “Ohio’s Lost Opportunity” bolsters the case against Opportunity Zones using something that’s been missing since the program’s inception: data.

When the Opportunity Zones were established through Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it was passed without any transparency requirements that would allow the public to see where investments were going and how it was impacting the economy – making it even easier for the program’s benefactors to escape accountability and build taxpayer-subsidized luxury apartments with indoor rock climbing, pet spas, and other amenities undeserving of public funding. 

As if the OZ tax break was not revolting enough, in 2019, Ohio went even further and added a state tax sweetener for the program. However, there was a silver lining: The add-ons also included transparency requirements missing in the federal program, allowing researchers to understand more about OZs’ impact.

Some highlights from the report:

  • OZs tend to be concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas received almost none.
  • Most OZs receive no investment – 200 of 320 in Ohio have received none.
  • College towns often qualify as OZs because of the high number of students, who are not living in poverty, but have a low average wage.

A bill in the NY legislature, S543-A (Gianaris) / A2170-A (Dinowitz), would fully end the state’s OZ tax break.

For more on OZ debauchery, check out Reinvent Albany’s report, “Guns, Oil, and Crypto,” and our blog post on OZ research.

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