Upstate New York could benefit from a new program created under the federal tax law, and four members of Congress hope Gov. Andrew Cuomo will nominate the region for the initiative.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik spearheaded a letter urging Cuomo to nominate upstate New York for the Opportunity Zones program, which was part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in December.
The goal of the Opportunity Zones program is to spur private investment in low-income rural and urban communities. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, and other members who signed the letter, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, believe the program could benefit upstate New York.
"According to the Economic Innovation Group, American corporations are currently sitting on over $2 trillion in unrealized capital gains, and as you know, many of the communities in our districts are in need of investment," the members wrote. "The upstate economy continues to struggle with high poverty, lack of quality jobs, and slow economic growth, and it has become increasingly difficult for businesses in this region to recruit and retain workers."
There are several communities in upstate New York that are eligible for Opportunity Zone funding, including the cities of Auburn and Syracuse in Katko's district.
The benefits for investors include a temporary tax deferral for capital gains that are reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. But before any investments are made, governors must nominate communities in their state for the opportunity zone designation.
The deadline for nominations is March 21, according to the procedures outlined by the Internal Revenue Service.
"Given that the application deadline is quickly approaching, we strongly encourage you to nominate the upstate communities we represent for this program," the members wrote to Cuomo. "We believe it will not only benefit our constituents, but New York state as well."
The letter to Cuomo was also signed by U.S. Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso.
It's unclear whether the state will submit nominations for the Opportunity Zone program. Cuomo's office didn't immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter or the state's potential participation in the program.