The Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) hailed the State Assembly’s approval today of bipartisan legislation (Assembly Bill 532) that enhances Opportunity Zones tax incentives in Wisconsin to help drive private investment to economically challenged, capital-starved communities across the state.

Under the federal Opportunity Zones program established by Congress in 2017, geographic Opportunity Zones were established nationwide to spur investment and economic development in distressed communities. Wisconsin has 120 Opportunity Zones, which are in every congressional district, 44 counties and 60 municipalities.

“WEDA would like to thank Representatives Nancy VanderMeer and Jill Billings and Senators Dan Feyen and Janis Ringhand for authoring the legislation and their leadership on this important issue,” said Michael Welsh, WEDA Legislative Affairs Director. “The legislation will help keep Wisconsin investment wealth from leaving the state and instead encourage investors to re-invest their capital gains in Wisconsin communities.”

Tax benefits for investing in Opportunity Zones – through qualified Opportunity Funds – include tax deferral on invested capital gains and tax-free growth on the Opportunity Fund investment earnings. In addition, investors receive a reduction in their original capital gains tax if the Opportunity Fund investment is held for at least five years. Assembly Bill 532 doubles the Opportunity Zones capital gains tax reduction at the state level for investors who invest in Wisconsin Opportunity Funds, which are required to hold at least 90% of their assets in Wisconsin Opportunity Zone projects.

“The federal program has the potential to unlock billions of dollars in unrealized capital gains, attracting investment to low-income census tracts and sparking new development,” said WEDA Executive Director Brian Doudna. “The Wisconsin Opportunity Zones legislation will significantly enhance the federal program in the Badger State, providing much-needed capital for business and residential projects that accelerate economic growth and job creation.”