By: John Curtis
Congress needs to champion small businesses more than ever before. Millions of hard-working men and women put their heart and soul — and often their life savings — into these businesses. COVID-19 has created even more challenges for these hometown heroes, and it is up to Congress to create an environment that helps them come out of this pandemic stronger than before.
In 2017, Opportunity Zones were created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to incentivize investment in economically distressed communities. They were intended to incentivize targeted development by making the tax code more favorable to investors who put their capital in these communities. This creates a win-win situation where investing in an Opportunity Zone is beneficial for investors while spurring investment in the areas that would most greatly benefit.
However, this program needs to be updated to adapt to an economy heavily impacted by COVID-19. Along with my friend Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), I’ve introduced a bill to help small businesses struggling due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan COVID-19-Impacted Small Business Opportunity Zone Act would temporarily expand the availability of these tax benefits to anyone willing to invest in a small business, whether or not they are located in an Opportunity Zone.
Under our proposal, small businesses that experienced difficulties due to COVID-19 — supply chain disruptions, changes in the quality of supplied components, staffing challenges, a decrease in sales or customers, or partial or full suspension of business — could get the lifeline they need through our legislation. These benefits include retaining the capital gains tax rate at the time of the investment, extending the deferral of the capital gains tax, and an exemption from taxes for investments held for over 10 years.
Small businesses have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. An infusion of new capital can help businesses keep employees on the payroll and allow them to invest in infrastructure to safely help their business to function and serve their customers.
While many have been hard hit by the impacts of COVID-19, now is a time to think we can come back better and stronger. This is just one bipartisan proposal being considered by Congress to provide pandemic aid — I look forward to working with my colleagues on this, and other legislation, to help small businesses across Utah and the United States.
Curtis represents Utah’s 3rd District in the United States Congress and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee.