New York Slashes Tax Breaks for Opportunity Zones Program that Provided Housing for 31M Americans

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris speaks at a rally for workplace safety protections outside Bellevue Hospital to demand legally enforceable standards as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues on August 19, 2020 in New York. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP) (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty …
BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

New York will no longer offer state tax breaks to real estate developers who invest in low-income neighborhoods — or opportunity zones — to improve the housing infrastructure across the United States.

Democrat New York State Senator Michael Gianaris is behind the measure that decouples New York state’s capital gains tax code from the federal program administered by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and that is now included in the recently approved state budget.

“Opportunity Zones are nothing more than a giveaway of public money to wealthy developers, and I’m glad New York took a stand against the much-abused program,” Gianaris (pictured) said in a statement. 

The real estate website The Real Deal reported on the development:

New York joins North Carolina, California, Massachusetts, and Mississippi in separating its state tax regime from the federal Opportunity Zones program.

The program, which was created by Republicans’ 2017 tax overhaul, lets investors and developers defer or forgo some capital gains taxes by funding projects in any of 8,700 Opportunity Zones across the country.

New York has 514 census tracts included in the program. Developers will still qualify for federal tax breaks for investing in those so-called distressed areas.

Ken Weissenberg, a tax partner at EisnerAmper, said in The Real Deal article that the elimination of the tax benefit makes New York less attractive to investors.

“[It’s] another wedge to drive people out of New York,” Weissenberg said.

More than two dozen groups, including the leftwing New York State United Teachers and Communication Workers of America, supported eliminating the tax break.

Breitbart News reported on the impact of the Opportunity Zones program over the past four years:

For background, Opportunity Zones was created under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, shepherded and signed into law by President Donald Trump and, under the direction of HUD Secretary Ben Carson, it has resulted in providing housing and infrastructure for approximately 31.3 million Americans across all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.

“Over the last several years, Opportunity Zones have spurred $75 billion dollars in private sector investment and have created at least 500,000 new jobs in designated Opportunity Zone tracts,” a senior administration official at HUD told Breitbart News. “These new investments will lift at least one million Americans up out of poverty and onto the path toward self-sufficiency, decreasing the overall Opportunity Zone poverty rate by 11 percent.”

“We hope the next administration will continue to highlight this prosperous program,” the official said.

Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) are responsible for putting Opportunity Zones into the 2017 tax legislation. 

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