On August 7, 2012, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 3616 into law authorizing the extension of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Program. The new law extends the expiration date of 97 existing enterprise zones:
- Enterprise zones scheduled to expire before July 1, 2016 are extended to July 1, 2016.
- Enterprise zones that are scheduled to expire in 2016, 2017, and 2018, including enterprise zones that are newly extended until 2016, must apply to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to retain the Enterprise Zone designation after the expiration date.
- Existing enterprise zones scheduled to terminate on or after January 1, 2019 will instead terminate 30 years from the date of their designation.
- Enterprise zones that are designated after August 7, 2012 will remain in effect for 15 years and will be subject to review by the Enterprise Zone Board (“Board”) after 13 years for an additional ten-year designation.
The new law also eliminates the enterprise zone jobs tax credit and dividend/interest income deductions and adds five additional new zones over the next two decades. Under the new law, the DCEO will accept and review all applications to determine whether they meet three of ten criteria to be certified as a zone. The criteria include: unemployment rate, infrastructure, plant closure and job loss, education, poverty rates, and high commercial and industrial vacancy. New enterprise zones shall be effective on January 1st of the first calendar year after the DCEO certification.
Additionally, the law creates the Enterprise Zone Board, which will approve or deny enterprise zone applications certified and scored by the DCEO. The Board will consist of five members, including the director of the DCEO who will serve as chairperson (or his or her designee), the director of the Department of Revenue (or his or her designee), and three members appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Finally, the law creates new reporting requirements for companies receiving tax benefits from the Enterprise Zone or the High Impact Business Program. The law increases accountability by requiring that any business receiving tax incentives due to its location within an enterprise zone or its designation as a High Impact Business to report the total Enterprise Zone or High Impact Business tax benefits received annually. The report must be broken down by incentive category and enterprise zone and will be due to the Department of Revenue no later than March 30th of each year and shall cover the previous calendar year. The first report will be for the 2012 calendar year and will be due no later than March 30, 2013. Failure to report data shall result in ineligibility to receive incentives.
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