The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created the Opportunity Zones program to increase investment in economically distressed communities. The program provides preferential capital gains treatment for investments within designated low-income census tracts. Policymakers hope opportunity zones will unleash investment in low-income communities throughout the country.

This analysis describes opportunity zone program incentives, reviews both academic and government evidence on the effects of place-based incentive programs, and discusses possible outcomes for opportunity zone residents. Overall, we find opportunity zones will present certain budgetary and economic costs to taxpayers and investors, but based on evidence from other place-based incentive programs, we cannot be certain opportunity zones will generate sustained economic development for distressed communities.

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