Treasury OIG Launches Opportunity Zone Investigation
The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently launched an internal investigation on abuse in the Opportunity Zone program. Treasury Inspector Richard Delmar announced the investigation a few months after Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) sent him a letter requesting an investigation after news reports indicated that friends of the Trump administration were benefiting from the program.
According to news reports, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the department last year to grant Storey County, Nev., an Opportunity Zone status, a decision that came after he spent time with the co-owner of a company in that county. Subsequently, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also sent a letter to Mnuchin in November asking for more information on why that county was selected after the department had previously decided it was ineligible. The Treasury Department, in response, said officials only reconsidered the Opportunity Zone designation for the county at the request of local officials and that Mnuchin didn’t know of the investments in the county.
The acting inspector general said in a statement he expects “to complete our work and respond to the congressional requesters in early spring.” The Opportunity Zone program was enacted with President Trump’s tax bill in 2017 and was designed to give tax incentives to those who invest in designated lower income areas.