Opportunity Zones Could be a Big Boost for Utah

Most of urban Utah is enjoying a terrific economy. But the good times don’t extend to some low-income neighborhoods, or to many parts of rural Utah.

Unemployment is high in many rural and economically challenged areas, and many young people are forced to leave their neighborhoods and towns to earn a living. Many rural areas are losing population.

But more jobs, improved housing and business vibrancy could be created in these disadvantaged areas if investors take advantage of a new federal tax incentive program designed to boost jobs and economic growth in economically distressed areas.

Many people are aware that the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, championed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, cut taxes by $1.5 trillion. But it also contained an excellent program to incentivize investments in economically distressed areas. Utah business leader Jim Sorenson encouraged Hatch to include this program, and the senator agreed that it could provide a big economic boost in areas that need it most.

Under the program, state governors are allowed to nominate a certain number of “growth opportunity zones” in poverty-stricken areas. In Utah, with 181 qualifying census tracts, Gov. Gary Herbert was allowed to nominate 46 zones. He wisely asked city and county leaders for their input and recommendations in his nominations.

Individuals and corporations that invest in these economically distressed zones to generate jobs and economic growth are provided significant capital gains tax incentives. The positive impact could be substantial.

Read the full op-ed here.

 

 

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Deseret News Tue, 11/27/2018 - 07:38