The Biden administration is shutting down attempts by developers to use new Census Bureau maps to claim generous tax breaks enacted by Donald Trump.
The Internal Revenue Service announced Friday that boundaries for the nation’s roughly 8,700 opportunity zones — mainly poor areas in need of economic development — “were established at the time they were designated and are not subject to change.”
Bloomberg News reported in February that hundreds of census tracts underpinning the zones were altered as part of the nation’s once-a-decade count of the population. Some of those changes came after overtures from businesses and officials interested in expanding the tax incentives to new areas, such as a portion of Pittsburgh where the National Hockey League’s Penguins are pursuing a $1 billion development project, and a sprawling logistics park outside of Baltimore where Amazon and Under Armour have facilities.
The incentives were sold as a way to help the poor, by encouraging investment in distressed areas. But they have since been used to finance everything from luxury apartments in Houston to a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Portland, Ore. Economists at the University of California at Berkeley recently documented how investors have gravitated toward zones that were already on the upswing.