The Roundtable Commemorates 20th Anniversary of 9-11 and TRIA’s Positive Impact
The Real Estate Roundtable this week commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks by recognizing the enduring, positive impact of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and holding a joint meeting of the organization’s Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) and Risk Management Working Group (RMWG).
Reflection and Action
- Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “The nation and the industry reflects during this solemn anniversary week on the profound human losses, and lessons learned, from the tragic events of September 11, 2001.”
- DeBoer added, “We also recognize the enduring, positive impact of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) to help protect the economy in the event of future attacks. The Roundtable remains proud of its efforts in the wake of 9-11 and secure TRIA renewals that extend the program until the end of 2027. Our nation remains vigilant against terrorism threats as our industry remains steadfast in working with government agencies to combat physical and cyber-terrorist attacks.”
9-11 Legacy: TRIA
- A Sept. 7 article in Commercial Observer reported how The Real Estate Roundtable organized a coalition of business insurance policyholders – the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism – to win passage of TRIA. The article states, “TRIA has provided the commercial real estate industry with a crucial backstop against losses suffered from external threats in the nearly two decades since its enactment.”
- The article quotes Roundtable Board Member Anthony Malkin, (chairman, president and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust) on the far-reaching, positive impact of TRIA on CRE, colleges, sports stadiums and hospitals.
- Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers is also quoted about TRIA’s vital importance for commercial real estate, since lenders require ‘all risk’ insurance coverage — including terrorism coverage — to cover the risk of loss to the collateral. (Commercial Observer, Sept 7)
Ongoing Industry Efforts
- The Roundtable’s HSTF and the Real Estate Information Sharing Analysis Center (RE-ISAC) were launched soon after 9-11 to coordinate CRE’s response to potential future attacks and share threat information.
- The HSTF and RMWG virtual joint meeting this week featured a discussion with Peter Bergen, whose extensive background as an expert on terrorism includes years as a journalist, documentary producer, vice president for global studies & fellows at New America, and CNN national security analyst. He is currently co-director at the Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University. Mr. Bergen discussed the current threat picture facing the United States, including the ramifications of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.
- Roundtable participants were also joined by Shane Lamond (Lieutenant, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department) who led a discussion on civil unrest threats, the proliferation of ransomware attacks and various COVID-related challenges of re-entering buildings.
The Roundtable is also working with the Business Continuity Coalition to develop an insurance program that protects jobs by ensuring business continuity from future economic losses from pandemics and other health emergencies that necessitate widespread government mandated closures of the economy. (Roundtable Weekly, July 23)
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Congress Faces Daunting Fall Agenda of Infrastructure Bills, Budget Funding and Debt Limit Deadlines
Several significant issues affecting commercial real estate converge this month as Congress faces deadlines on a $550 billion “physical” infrastructure bill, a separate $3.5 trillion “social” infrastructure package, government funding for FY2022, and the national debt ceiling.
The full Senate will return on Sept. 13 and the House on Sept. 20. Deadlines to watch as policymakers face a daunting agenda:
Sept. 15 — Reconciliation Bills Expected
- House committees this week began work on completing various portions of the massive social infrastructure package – including tax revenue raisers impacting CRE – by a Sept. 15 deadline set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The $3.5 trillion package will be considered under “reconciliation” budget rules that would only require Democratic votes to pass. (The Hill, Sept. 9 and Roundtable Weekly tax story below)
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has instructed his committees to finalize their parts of the upper chamber’s reconciliation bill by Sept. 15 – although this deadline is non-binding and expected to slip. (CNBC, Aug. 11)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) wrote in a Sept. 2 Wall Street Journal op-ed that Congress should take a “strategic pause” on the reconciliation package. In a 50-50 Senate, the votes of moderate Democrats such as Manchin and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) are crucial for passage.
Sept. 27 — House infrastructure Vote
- The Senate on Aug. 10 passed a bipartisan bill addressing physical infrastructure with $550 billion in new spending. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 13)
- Pelosi has set a Sept. 27 deadline for the House to vote on the Senate-passed bill. Pelosi’s move accommodated a group of 10 moderates in her caucus who insisted on de-coupling House votes on physical and human infrastructure legislation. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 20)
- Pelosi can afford to lose only three Democratic votes in the narrowly divided House if all Republicans oppose a bill. (New York Times, Sept 5)
- The Real Estate Roundtable held an all-member Infrastructure Town Hall on Aug. 12 to discuss the Senate infrastructure bill, what lay ahead in the House, and the potential impact on commercial real estate. (Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 13)
- The Roundtable’s summaries of issues affecting CRE that are in play as part of the infrastructure packages include:
October – Federal Government Funding and Debt Ceiling
- Funding for the federal government expires Oct. 1 unless an FY22 appropriations bill is enacted. Congress is expected to pass a stopgap spending bill – known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) – that would fund agencies at current levels to avoid a partial government shutdown.
- The CR could also include a measure to suspend or raise the national debt ceiling, which would require at least 10 Senate Republican votes to pass under regular order.
- Democratic leaders plan to pursue a bipartisan vote to waive the debt limit. (Reuters and PoliticoPro, Sept. 8) However, 46 Senate Republicans pledged in an August 10 letter that they “will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, whether that increase comes through a stand-alone bill, a continuing resolution, or any other vehicle." (Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 10)
- Congress must address the national debt ceiling by October, according to a Sept. 8 letter from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to congressional leaders.
The Roundtable will discuss how all these issues impact CRE and the national economy during its Fall Meeting on Oct. 5 in Washington, DC (Roundtable-level members only).
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Roundtable Raises Concerns about New and Complex Senate Proposal to Raise Taxes on Real Estate Partnerships
Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer expressed strong concerns following the Sept. 10 release of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) draft legislation to restructure pass-through tax rules and raise $172 billion in additional tax revenue from the country’s 4 million partnerships and LLCs. (Wyden Draft, Proposal Overview and Summary)
Possible Economic Disruption
- DeBoer stated, “Partnerships are used to bring parties together to create and grow businesses that propel job creation, new investment, and productive economic activity. Partnerships contribute immensely to the culture of dynamic entrepreneurship and risk-taking that is missing in many parts of the world where business activity is dominated by large, public corporations. In this current environment, Congress should be working on ways to encourage and strengthen partnerships, not cut their knees out from under them.”
- Over the last several decades, partnerships have grown to become a dominant form of business organization in the United States, accounting for $8.7 trillion in annual business receipts and $34.3 trillion in total assets, according to the IRS.
- Senator Wyden’s proposal, if enacted, could have enormous and unanticipated consequences for U.S. real estate, capital investment, and economic activity. Real estate, rental, and leasing businesses represent more than half (50.4 percent) of all partnerships.
- “The Chairman’s proposal is big, comprehensive, and not yet vetted in any meaningful way. Partnership taxation is a complicated area of the law that has evolved over decades. The proposals would apply retroactively to economic arrangements negotiated years ago. Past experience with retroactive changes to partnership tax law, in 1986, generated huge and damaging economic disruption, including massive bankruptcies, stress on all lenders, and the end of the saving and loan industry. We don’t need that kind of rash policy action again,” DeBoer added.
- Proposals in Chairman Wyden’s discussion draft that would have a significant impact on real estate partnerships include:
- Modifying the rules for determining whether a partner has recourse debt with respect to partnership property. The provision would require all partnership debt to be allocated in accordance with partnership profits except where a partner is the lender (sec. 752).
- Restricting the methods available for allocating the tax attributes of contributed property among the partners in a partnership by mandating the remedial method under section 704(c).
- In the case of property contributed to a partnership with built-in gain, requiring gain recognition by the contributing partner if the property is subsequently distributed to another partner, even if the distribution occurs after 7 years (e.g., the “mixing bowl” rule that currently applies for 7 years would apply forever).
- Mandating partnership basis adjustments that relate to disparities between inside and outside partnership basis that arise due to partnership distributions or transfers of partnership interests. These basis adjustments are currently elective under section 754 and mandated in only certain substantial cases in sections 734 and 743.
- Other provisions in the draft legislation would: eliminate substantial economic effect as a basis for partnership allocations and instead require partnerships to make allocations in all instances based on the “partners’ interests in the partnership” standard (except in certain “abusive” situations involving related partners). Among the other proposed changes, the bill would also subject publicly traded partnerships that earn qualifying passive income to corporate-level taxation.
The Wyden proposal comes as Congressional Democrats are seeking new revenue sources to finance their ambitious $3.5 trillion human capital initiative.
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House Ways & Means Scheduled to Mark-up Revenue Measures Next Week
The Real Estate Roundtable continued to weigh in with lawmakers with concerns on a number of Biden administration tax proposals as the House Ways and Means Committee prepared to mark-up tax measures early next week that may potentially affect commercial real estate.
Ways & Means Timeline
- Congressional committees are aiming to complete work by Sept. 15 on various portions of the massive infrastructure package, which Democrats will consider under “reconciliation” budget rules that require a simple majority to pass in the narrowly divided Congress. (Wall Street Journal, August 24)
- Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) expects to release details on his revenue proposals over the weekend. The top ordinary tax rate and the corporate tax rate are expected to be a key focus of the committee's deliberations. (The Hill, Sept. 9)
- Ways and Means member Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) stated this week she will vote against the committee’s measures unless more time is available to review the proposals. (CNN, Sept. 9)
- Rep. Murphy, a moderate, said she supports the use of reconciliation to enact Democrats’ economic priorities, but at this stage, she said, “I have no choice but to vote ‘no’ on each subtitle and on final passage,” she said. (Roll Call, Sept. 9)
- “I don’t know how much we’re spending, how much we’re raising, how we’re spending some of the money and how we’re raising any of the money,” she said. (Murphy statement, YouTube, Sept. 9)
President Biden’s tax proposals that may be considered by Ways & Means include:
Like-kind Exchanges (Section 1031)
- A coalition of 27 business organizations, including The Real Estate Roundtable, wrote to congressional tax-writing committee leadership on Sept. 7 about how Biden’s proposed legislative restrictions on like-kind exchanges, if enacted, would undermine the economic recovery while causing unintended and unnecessary risks to the strength and stability of U.S. real estate.
- The coalition’s letter details how like-kind exchanges under section 1031 support jobs and investment; the health of U.S. commercial real estate and real estate markets; and the preservation of family-owned farms, ranches, and forestland.
- Tax Notes on August 9 published an article entitled “The Tax Policy Case for Section 1031” by Roundtable Tax Policy Advisory Committee Member Don Susswein (Principal, RSM US LLP), Roundtable Senior Vice President and Counsel Ryan McCormick and Kyle Brown (Senior Manager, RSM).
- The article addresses how like-kind exchanges increase net investment, boost state and local tax revenue, stimulate capital expenditures which leads to job growth, reduce leverage and financial risk, lower rents for households, and support healthy property values. The article also shows how use of section 1031 also creates a ladder of economic opportunity for minority-, veteran-, and women-owned businesses and cash-poor entrepreneurs who may lack access to traditional sources of financing.
- Advertising messages on the need to preserve section 1031 will begin running on Sept. 13 in Politico’s Morning Money.
Pass-Through Business Income Deduction (Section 199A)
- More than 120 business trade associations, including The Roundtable, are part of the broad-based Main St. Employers coalition, which wrote to Ways and Means Chairman Neal on Sept. 8 about new Biden tax proposals affecting individually- and family-owned businesses. (Coalition letter)
- The letter states, “Proposals to raise rates on pass-throughs and C corporations, cap the Section 199A deduction, increase the capital gains tax, and impose capital gains at death would raise taxes on Main Street businesses when they operate, when they are sold, and when they are passed on to the next generation.”
Step-up in Basis and Taxation of Gains at Death
- A Sept. 9 letter to congressional tax-writing committee leadership from a large multi-industry trade association coalition that includes The Roundtable strongly opposed Biden administration proposals to death a taxable event for inherited assets and eliminating stepped-up basis.
- The Family Business Estate Tax Coalition letter also cited a recent EY report that showed if stepped-up basis were repealed via carryover basis, 40,000 jobs would be lost every year in the first 10 years after enactment and GDP would decrease by $50 billion over 10 years.
- The National Association of Realtors also weighed in on the administration’s tax proposals above in a Sept. 7 letter to leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. The letter emphasized how these the proposals could negatively impact the health of the commercial real estate market and limit the production of much-needed affordable rental housing and result in higher rent costs.
- Policymakers are also expected to address tax issues such as raising the capital gains rate, the 3.8% net investment income tax, and carried interest, as well as tax incentives for important priorities like affordable housing and energy efficiency.
Roundtable members are encouraged to contact the Ways and Means Committee directly about the Biden tax proposals. The Roundtable and its coalition partners expect this fall will be a critical time for decisions on national tax policy affecting CRE.
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