CHARLESTON, W.Va. – In an op-ed for the Daily Mail Opinion Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) today highlight the numerous benefits that can result from communities taking advantage of Opportunity Zones, a federal program that offers tax incentives to promote private investment in economically distressed areas.
The op-ed comes on the same day that the senators are visiting several Opportunity Zones in and around the Huntington area. During the stops, the senators will meet with local leaders from both the public and private sectors to hear more about the economic challenges these areas face, as well as how they believe Opportunity Zones can make a difference.
“This is a win-win for both communities and those investing. It is not a new federal bureaucracy, but simply a pathway to prosperity… Here in West Virginia, the potential uses for these dollars are wide reaching. From increasing reliable broadband access and revitalizing areas that have seen tough economic times to helping diversify the economy and attracting new business and investment, these zones are really all about one thing at the end of the day: creating opportunity,” the senators write in the op-ed.
The full op-ed is available here and below.
Creating Opportunities for Growth in West Virginia
By: U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.)
Daily Mail Opinion Page of the Charleston Gazette-Mail
August 17, 2018
When we voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December, we did so to help millions of families across West Virginia and the nation. Four million Americans have received bonuses or wage and benefit increases since tax reform’s passage, and more than a million jobs have been created nationwide.
The child tax credit and standard deduction were doubled, simplifying the tax process for many and putting more money back in the pockets of hardworking moms and dads. In fact, a typical family of four making $73,000 a year will save more than $2,000 on their next tax return.
Here in West Virginia, families and small businesses are already seeing the benefits of tax reform, and West Virginians are speaking out about the many different ways they are feeling the positive effects of the tax cuts. Employers have been able to expand their operations, give back to their employees, and create new jobs. Hardworking men and women have been able to more easily cover household expenses and invest in their children’s education. And some have even been able to increase their charitable contributions to support community efforts like fighting the opioid epidemic. These are changes that are enriching and improving lives across the state.
Even with all of this, potentially some of the biggest benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are yet to come. This past May, Senator Capito and Governor Justice announced that the U.S. Treasury Department has certified 55 Opportunity Zones across West Virginia – a new provision that has the potential to transform communities that have felt left behind for far too long. More than 52 million Americans, including nearly 35 percent of West Virginians, live in census tracts defined as distressed and eligible for the Opportunity Zone program.
Today, we will be visiting three of these Opportunity Zones in Huntington and meeting with local leaders from both the public and private sectors to hear more about the economic challenges these areas face, as well as how they believe Opportunity Zones can make a difference.
So how do these zones work? There are currently more than $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains sitting on the sidelines. That means private investors are making money, but it is not being claimed, or realized, and reinvested.
Senator Scott worked to include his Investing In Opportunity Act, which Senator Capito cosponsored, in the tax reform package in order to get these dollars moving. In exchange for long-term investment in Opportunity Zones up to 10 years but not less than 5 years, private investors would realize tax incentives that encourage that investment.
This is a win-win for both communities and those investing. It is not a new federal bureaucracy, but simply a pathway to prosperity. The selection of the zones was powered by Governors and local officials, not people sitting in a room in Washington, meaning each state had total control over their zone selection process.
Here in West Virginia, the potential uses for these dollars are wide reaching. From increasing reliable broadband access and revitalizing areas that have seen tough economic times to helping diversify the economy and attracting new business and investment, these zones are really all about one thing at the end of the day: creating opportunity.
As the Treasury Department finalizes the rules for the Opportunity Zones over the next few months, the excitement over this new tool continues to grow. We know that too many families feel the door to success is closed, and it’s not because of an absence of creativity or work ethic, but the lack of opportunity. As we will discuss in Huntington today, this program will help kick those doors wide open and bring hope back to communities where it has been lost.
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