From the beginning of session, it was clear that the legislature intended to create an incentive package around the federally designated opportunity zones, many of which overlap municipalities. The Governor and several legislators introduced legislation in January designed to leverage investor funds in different ways. Ultimately, Senator Bill Ferguson took the lead and incorporated various aspects of each (in a now 68-page bill!). The bill passed on the final day of session.
We are still reviewing the late changes, but as described by the sponsor, SB 581:
- Extends and provides more resources for the More Jobs for Marylanders Program.
- Provides “value-based” enhancements to several tax credit programs for increased transparency (level 1, 5% boost) and community benefits (level 2, 10% boost). To be eligible for level 2 enhancements, a qualified business or fund must have the approval of their municipality if they reside in one.
- Alters the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program and extends the benefit to certain opportunity zones.
- Addresses vacant properties by authorizing local governments to provide a property tax credit against local real property taxes imposed on the eligible assessment of qualified opportunity zone business property if the property has been vacant for at least 12 months.
- Expands rural development by extending some development programs limited to priority funding areas to all the opportunity zones located in Allegany, Garrett, Somerset, and Wicomico counties.
- Establishes a Qualified Workforce Housing Tax Credit and Fund to support workforce housing within opportunity zones.