Economic Opportunity & Resilience: Opportunity Zones & Equity

38 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2021

See all articles by Daniel Figueroa

Daniel Figueroa

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - University of Massachusetts School of Law

Date Written: December 22, 2020


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provided the most comprehensive update to the tax code in two decades. Born of it was the federal opportunity zone legislation that facilitates economic development in historically distressed areas by offering tax incentives. But does this “catalyst of economic growth” provide the needed relief and opportunity to the communities which it’s aimed to serve? This piece is an analysis of opportunity zones—the good, the bad, and the yet to be defined and their effect on actually curbing (or accelerating) gentrification. By considering the TCJA in general, this work evaluates stipulations regarding “Opportunity Zones,” and the concept of geographically-targeted tax policy. First, an analogization of supply-side tax policy and place-based incentivization programs; following the analysis of supply-side economics and its influence on a rising inequality; and a two-fold assessment of the factors most germane to this analysis: a historical overview of the ideological, legislative, and social factors most pivotal to the passage of TCJA, reforms are shown to have culminated not only in sky-high levels of wealth and income inequality in the U.S., but also an increasing distance and isolation between the wealthy ‘investor class’ targeted by ‘Opportunity Zone’ legislation, and the economically-distressed communities which such tax-based legislative incentives were designed to bring relief. Notably, this work will consider the impact of such legislation upon poor areas, both in terms of the apparent impact it has had upon local development and with respect to the phenomenon known as gentrification. After examining the shortfalls of the legislation, this paper offers recommendations on a robust, comprehensive response toward equitable growth for the communities intended to be served.

Keywords: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA); Law; Opportunity Zones; Equity

Suggested Citation

Figueroa, Daniel, Economic Opportunity & Resilience: Opportunity Zones & Equity (December 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Daniel Figueroa (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth - University of Massachusetts School of Law ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
United States

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