May 17, 2021
IRS says qualified opportunity zones boundaries not changed by census
In Announcement 2021-10, the IRS said the boundaries of designated qualified Opportunity Zones (OZs) did not change because of the 2020 decennial census.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) created opportunity zones by adding IRC Section 1400Z-1 and IRC Section 1400Z-2 to encourage investment in economically-distressed areas by giving tax incentives to taxpayers who invest and hold onto investments in OZs through qualified opportunity funds. IRC Section 1400Z-1 allows certain areas to be designated as OZs and does not permit changes to the boundaries after they are designated as such.
Notices 2018-48 and 2019-42 listed designated qualified OZs based on census tract numbers and boundaries that existed at the time of the notices. These numbers and boundaries were based on the 2010 decennial census.
The IRS said the boundaries of a designated qualified OZ "do not shrink or expand if the 2020 decennial census results in a change to the boundaries of a census tract." "Similarly, if the 2020 decennial census results in a change to a 2010 census tract number listed in Notice 2018-48 and Notice 2019-42 and associated with a [d]esignated [qualified] OZ, the 2010 census tract number continues to apply for purposes of identifying" the designated qualified OZ.
Announcement 2021-10 makes clear that the 2020 decennial census has no impact on OZ boundaries or designations. Any updates to the OZ designations would require Congressional action. Taxpayers should rely on the 2010 decennial census tract boundaries and numbers when checking whether a location is in a designated OZ. This settles a common question as some programs retain the same boundaries and designations throughout the life of the program whereas other programs transition to new boundaries and designations after each census.