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April 26, 2019

TAX POLICY
Business Coalition Urges Congress to Correct Cost Recovery Period for Nonresidential Real Estate Improvements

CAPITAL & CREDIT – CANNABIS
House Expected to Vote on Cannabis SAFE Banking Bill; STATES Act Reintroduced to Resolve Federal-State Legal Conflicts Over Cannabis

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM, ECONOMIC GROWTH & CRE
Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act Aims to Encourage Tourism to the U.S. and Bolster Job Creation


TAX POLICY

Business Coalition Urges Congress to Correct Cost Recovery Period for Nonresidential Real Estate Improvements  

A coalition of businesses and trade groups, including The Real Estate Roundtable, today urged all members of Congress to cosponsor the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act (H.R. 1869 / S. 803) – a bill that would correct a drafting error in tax reform.  The legislation would give qualified improvement property (QIP) a 15-year depreciation period and restore its eligibility for accelerated bonus depreciation. (QIP Policy Comment Letter, April 26)

 2019-04-26 QIP cover x200

A coalition of businesses and trade groups, including The Real Estate Roundtable, urged all members of Congress to cosponsor the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act (H.R. 1869 / S. 803) – a bill that would correct a drafting error in tax reform.  The legislation would give qualified improvement property (QIP) a 15-year depreciation period and restore its eligibility for accelerated bonus depreciation. (QIP Policy Comment Letter, April 26)

  • House Ways and Means Committee members Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced H.R. 1869 on March 26. The Senate bill (S. 803) was introduced earlier in the month by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Doug Jones (D-AL).  (Roundtable Weekly, March 15)

  • The legislation would correct a mistake in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that lengthened the cost recovery period for QIP, which generally applies to improvements to the interior of existing nonresidential buildings.  

  • The error has resulted in a significantly longer 39- or 40-year cost recovery period.  The intent of Congress was to allow the immediate expensing of QIP – or provide a 20-year recovery period in the case of taxpayers electing out of new limitations on the deductibility of business interest.

  • The April 26 coalition letter to leadership in the House and Senate, as well as leaders of tax committees in both chambers, notes that there is no budget impact to restore the QIP depreciation to 15 years.  

  • Specific examples are offered in the letter to show the negative consequences that the current law is having on QIP investments and commercial renovation projects.  The letter states, "Not surprisingly, it is causing numerous negative ripple effects for individuals and businesses, including on job creation, sales of QIP products and building supplies, property values, building occupancy and rental income, cost-saving energy efficiency gains, and even on fire safety."

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer said, "The Restoring Investment in Improvements Act would enact an immediate and necessary correction to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  It would reverse an unnecessary drag on building investment, construction activity, and job creation.  Congress should move on this common-sense legislation quickly and reinstate a much shorter cost recovery period for building improvements." 

In the weeks ahead, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees may address "technical corrections" to the TCJA, such as the cost recovery period for QIP along with other tax legislative priorities.  (Roundtable Weekly, March 29)

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CAPITAL & CREDIT – CANNABIS

House Expected to Vote on Cannabis SAFE Banking Bill; STATES Act Reintroduced to Resolve Federal-State Legal Conflicts Over Cannabis   

A pair of bills working their way through Congress could allow financial institutions to provide legal cannabis companies with banking services and resolve federal-state laws governing cannabis.

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State-by-State Cannabis Policies — interactive map from National Cannabis Industry Association

  • Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said that the House will soon vote on the SAFE Act – a bill allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses in certain states. (The Hill, April 19)

  • The House Financial Services Committee on March 27 approved the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 20119 (H.R. 1595). The bipartisan bill, approved by a 45-15 vote, was co-sponsored Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Warren Davidson (R-OH).

  • The Real Estate Roundtable in March sent a letter urging swift enactment of the bill to the leadership of the Financial Services and Judiciary Committees.  Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer noted in the letter, "The SAFE Banking Act provides much-needed clarity for the banking, real estate, and business sectors to function within the contours of state laws that have legalized marijuana."  (Roundtable Weekly, March 29)
      Capitol Twiliight

    As the SAFE and STATES Acts move the cannabis issue forward in Congress, prospects for passing marijuana-related bills in the Senate remains uncertain.  (Fortune, April 19)



  • Blumenauer and Rep. David Joyce (D-OH) on April 4 also reintroduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act) in the House, which would ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to cannabis within its borders.  (H.R. 2093

  • According to a summary of the bill, 47 states have laws permitting marijuana or marijuana-based products. Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribal nations have similar laws.  Last year,  Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Vermont all expanded legal marijuana.

  • In the Senate, the STATES Act (S. 1028) was reintroduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to resolve the federal-state conflict over cannabis laws.  (U.S. News & World Report, April 4 and Roundtable Weekly, April 12)  

As the SAFE and STATES Acts move the cannabis issue forward in Congress, prospects for passing marijuana-related bills in the Senate remains uncertain.  (Fortune, April 19) 

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INTERNATIONAL TOURISM, ECONOMIC GROWTH & CRE

Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act Aims to Encourage Tourism to the U.S. and Bolster Job Creation  

Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Tom Rice (R-SC) reintroduced the bipartisan Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2019 (H.R. 2187) on April 9 to improve national security, increase international tourism, create jobs and reform visa laws. 

VisitUS logo x225

The Visit U.S. Coalition endorsed the introduction of the JOLT Act last year and again this month on its reintroduction. (Roundtable Weekly, July 27, 2018 and Visit U.S., April 9)  The coalition, led by the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, includes The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Resort Development Association.  

The Visit U.S. Coalition endorsed the introduction of the JOLT Act last year and again this month on its reintroduction. (Roundtable Weekly, July 27, 2018 and Visit U.S., April 9)  The coalition, led by the U.S. Travel Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, includes The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Resort Development Association.   

The JOLT Act proposes to: 

  • Strengthen visa processing by setting timely goals for applicants; 

  • Create a pilot program at the State Department to utilize videoconferencing technology for applicants who lack easy access to U.S. embassies;

  • Rename the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) the Secure Travel Partnership to more accurately reflect the realities of security and travel facilitation within the program;""

  • Modify the VWP to prevent overstays, and increase the ability of secure countries to participate;

  • Increase the ability of Canadians to stay up to 240 days per year;

  • Improve coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. 

"Welcoming international travelers to American shores has undeniable benefits - from boosting the economy with spending at hotels, restaurants, and retail stores, to showing the world what makes America great," said Visit U.S. Coalition spokesperson Andrea Riccio.   According to the coalition, each overseas traveler spends approximately $4,200 when they visit the U.S., directly supporting 1.2 million jobs and $33.7 billion in wages.  (Visit U.S. news release, April 9) 

A panel discussion at last year's Annual Roundtable Meeting focused on travel and tourism, economic growth and commercial real estate.  Participants included Roger Dow, President and CEO, U.S. Travel Association; Katherine Lugar, (former) President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association; Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Anthony E. Malkin  (Chairman and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust).  (Roundtable Weekly, June 15, 2018)

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For questions about Roundtable Weekly, please contact The Roundtable's Scott Sherwood at rweekly@rer.org or (202) 639-8400.

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