Mary Scott Balys
OFN continues to express our concerns that without strong reporting and transparency requirements, the communities impacted by Opportunity Zone investment will have no way of knowing how the provision is affecting their community. Additionally, without a comprehensive record of the investments being made and the results of those investments, there will be no way to objectively evaluate the provision at the end of its ten-year authorization.
Although Treasury did not propose any reporting requirements or a data collection framework in their most recent tranche of regulations, they did concurrently release a separate request for information (RFI) seeking comments on what reporting and transparency requirements Treasury and the IRS should be considering, if any. OFN has consistently advocated for meaningful and comprehensive data collection in order to be able to measure the impact of the Opportunity Zone provision and provide transparency to communities regarding the activity occurring. As a part of that effort, OFN is promoting the Opportunity Zones Framework, created by OFN in partnership with the US Impact Investing Alliance, the Beeck Center at Georgetown University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, which identifies best practices, a reporting framework, and a shared goal of measuring outcomes.
OFN is supportive of collecting comprehensive data that will show where the investment is being made, the results of the investment, and the impact on the targeted community. This data collection should include:
- Size of the investment
- Location of the investment
- Type of investment
- Community impacts of the investment
- Housing units created (affordable and market rate)
- Permanent, seasonal and construction jobs created
- Whether those jobs went to residents of the opportunity zone
- Square footage of commercial real estate
- Number of new small businesses created
- Other appropriate measures based on asset class (childcare spots created, patients served via a medical facility etc.)
Public comments regarding what data Treasury and the IRS should collect and report on are due May 31, 2019. Be on the lookout in the coming days for an OFN action alert with suggestions of steps you can take to support reporting requirements and transparency regarding opportunity zone investments.
There is also Congressional interest in creating new legislation to require reporting requirements. OFN is engaged with key policymakers in Congress and has consulted on the development of the legislation. This legislation would require Treasury to collect information regarding each Opportunity Fund investment and ensure that the data is made available to the public each year.