2017 saw the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which established Opportunity Zones as a new investment in low income communities.
South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott sponsored the Investing in Opportunity Act which was subsequently included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The legislation is intended to give communities a rare opportunity not commonly associated with federally mandated programs—minimal regulatory constraints, maximum flexibility, and access to private capital to encourage development in low-income census tracts in need of economic recovery. The program creates federal tax incentives that allow unrealized capital gains to be reinvested into “Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOF)”. Once established, the funds may be used in low-income census tracts that have been designated as Opportunity Zones. In March 2018, Governor McMaster designated 135 Opportunity Zones in South Carolina. (See map below) Every county in SC has at least one designated Opportunity Zone.
A robust stock market has created trillions of dollars in unrealized capital gains. Opportunity Zones could be an attractive vehicle for investment for those gains. In addition, communities are also exploring how to maximize their impact by coordinating possible private capital from Opportunity Funds with other related programs such as Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Historic Tax Credit (HTC) and other community development programs. SC Housing administers the LIHTC for our state.
Though the U.S. Department of Treasury has published proposed regulations on the types of capital gains that can be invested in Opportunity Zones on October 19, 2018, the regulatory landscape is still unfolding as of this writing.
The SC Department of Commerce provides a map of all Opportunity Zones to help potential investors determine the likelihood that a particular address falls within an Opportunity Zone. It is not meant to provide a definitive judgement on the qualification of a particular address and should not be used as such. It is advised that all prospective participants in the Opportunity Zone program consult the County of record for a more detailed analysis of the parcel in question as well as evaluate the regulations put forth by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.