The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 contains new tax incentives for investments in low-income census tracts designated as Opportunity Zones.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities. Private investment vehicles that place 90 percent or more of their funds into an Opportunity Zone can earn tax relief on the capital gains generated through those investments. Tax benefits increase the longer investments are in place.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 provides a unique opportunity for Governors across the country to nominate certain eligible census tracts as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are low-income census tracts where the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater and/or family income is less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

Each state may nominate a minimum of 25 total eligible census tracts but no more than 25% of the total number of eligible census tracts within the state. The nominations must be made by the Governor no later than March 22, 2018. When finalized, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will approve the nominated census tracts and administer the Opportunity Zone Program.

Communities in the following counties may qualify for Opportunity Zone nomination: Ada, Adams, Bannock, Benewah, Bingham, Bonner, Bonneville, Boundary, Camas, Canyon, Cassia, Clark, Clearwater, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Idaho, Jerome, Kootenai, Latah, Lemhi, Lewis, Madison, Minidoka, Nez Perce, Owyhee, Payette, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Valley and Washington.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Idaho Department of Commerce are calling for cities, counties and tribes in eligible areas to apply for a Governor’s nomination via the department’s online portal. All applications must be submitted to the online portal no later than 4 p.m. Mountain Time on March 2, 2018.

For more information, to begin the application process and for access to the online portal, please email grants@commerce.idaho.gov. Questions about community eligibility may be directed to Jerry Miller at jerry.miller@commerce.idaho.gov or 208.287.0780.

For more information on eligible census tracts, visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) website and map. For best results, zoom in on Idaho, click the “layers” button on the right side of the screen, select the “2011-2015 Census Tract” checkbox and “NMTC Qualified” in the italicized dropdown menu to the right of the checkbox.

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Department of the Treasury has not completed its rulemaking on the Opportunity Zone program. At this time the Department of Commerce is collecting applications for qualifying census zone tracts to be designated an Opportunity Zone. Selection criteria will be determined upon publication the U.S. Department of Treasury rules. All communications, maps and applications provided by the Idaho Department of Commerce are for planning purposes only and may be subject to change based upon the Department of the Treasury’s final rule.