Spring 2019 Roundtable Meeting

Roundtable Members and National Lawmakers Focus on Public Policies Beneficial to Economy, Job Creation and Communities

This week’s Real Estate Roundtable Spring Meeting featured discussions with U.S. lawmakers on developing market-based public policies that benefit national economic growth, create sustainable jobs and meet the evolving housing needs of local communities.  The meeting focused on issues such as infrastructure; terrorism insurance; tax issues such as opportunity zones and FIRPTA repeal; and energy efficiency.

Roundtable Chair  Debra A. Cafaro (Chairman & CEO, Ventas, Inc.)


  • Roundtable Chair Debra A. Cafaro (Chairman & CEO, Ventas, Inc.) launched the meeting by noting the wide range of issues addressed in The Roundtable’s 2019 National Policy Agenda.  Cafaro also recognized the organization’s anniversary in the advocacy world, stating, “During these past 20 years, our mission has been to bring together the top leaders from commercial real estate sectors with the industry’s 17 leading trade associations to address key national policy issues relating to our industry and to the overall economy.”  She emphasized that the organization’s successful business model has always been based on “…analyzing national issues for their real world impact, and then advocating a nonpartisan, unified position based on solid research and facts.” 
  • [Cafaro this week was also appointed as chair of the board of directors of The Economic Club of Chicago for a two-year term beginning July 1. (Video of Cafaro’s Speech, April 10) ]

Meeting speakers at The Roundtable’s Spring Meeting included: 

  • Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID) —  chair, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs — spoke with Roundtable members about his committee’s policy agenda,  his recent efforts to reshape the role of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and the need to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TRIPRA)

Chairman Michael Crapo (R-ID)— Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

  • Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) — member, Senate Committees on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources — discussed funding challenges for a national infrastructure improvement initiative, tax and other polices to encourage energy efficiency, and his recent reintroduction of the STATES Act to  resolve the federal-state conflict over cannabis laws. (U.S. News & World Report, April 4)
  • Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and  Tom Reed (R-NY) — House co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus — discussed the efforts of their 46-member bloc of bipartisan policymakers who seek cooperative approaches to policy solutions.  No Labels Founder and CEO  Nancy Jacobson joined the discussion on efforts to find common ground in the 116th Congress.
  • Justin Muzinich — Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Treasury — discussed TRIPRA reauthorization, Treasury’s highly-anticipated 2nd round Opportunity Zone regulations, and other ongoing security, trade, and tax initiatives.
  • Terry McAuliffe — former Governor of Virginia (2014-2018) and co-chair of Hilary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign — spoke about public policy lessons learned from his state’s successful economic expansion.
  • Tim Sloan — former CEO and President, Wells Fargo & Company — discussed his leadership experience as the largest lender to the CRE industry in the nation and the pressing need to recognize cybersecurity as a major risk to the country and banking industry.

The Roundtable will convene next on June 11-12 for its all-member Annual Meeting and policy advisory committee meetings in Washington, DC.

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FIRPTA - Tax Policy

Bipartisan FIRPTA Repeal Legislation Introduced

Bipartisan legislation introduced on April 10 by Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) would repeal the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) – a discriminatory capital gains tax on foreign investors in U.S. real estate.  (Legislative text of the Invest in America Act and one-page summary)

This week, Rep. John Larson (D-CT), above, and Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX)  introduced bipartisan legislation, Invest in America Actthat would repeal FIRPTA.

  • FIRPTA's tax penalty does not apply to any other asset class except U.S. real estate.  The arcane tax, enacted in 1980, discourages capital formation and investment that could create jobs and improve U.S. real estate and infrastructure.  By repealing FIRPTA, the Invest in America Act (H.R. 2210) would unlock foreign capital for productive investment. 
  • Rep. Larson stated, “The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s infrastructure a D+ rating. That’s unacceptable. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue. I am proud to introduce the Invest in America Act today with Congressman Marchant to unlock more opportunities to invest in communities in Connecticut and across the nation and to rebuild our infrastructure.”  (Larson-Marchant news release, April 10)
  • Rep. Marchant added, “I am proud to partner with Congressman Larson to introduce the Invest in America Act, which will remove the barriers in our tax code that discourage investments in real estate.  By providing parity to real estate assets under the law, foreign investors will be able to create more opportunities and more prosperity for American families."
  • The Larson-Marchant bill (H.R. 2210) was introduced with a total of 11 original cosponsors from the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee who represent every major region of the country.  
  • In 2015, Congress passed meaningful reforms to FIRPTA, exempting foreign pension funds and doubling the amount a foreign interest may invest in a publicly traded U.S. REIT.  (Roundtable Weekly, March 18, 2016)

    A  report by the Rosen Consulting Group  (RCG) estimated that FIRPTA repeal would generate an initial increase of between $65 billion and $125 billion in international investment in U.S. commercial real estate.  


  • The Real Estate Roundtable and American Institute of Architects released a statement of support for the Invest in America Act yesterday.  RER President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, "The FIRPTA regime is an anti-competitive outlier that deflects global capital to other countries.  Our infrastructure challenges demand a holistic approach and innovative solutions. Now is the time to build on the recent success of the 2015 reforms by eliminating FIRPTA outright and unlocking private capital for even more job growth and infrastructure improvements."
  • The Roundtable and 19 national trade organizations wrote to Ways and Means Committee Members and other key House lawmakers on March 28, urging them to support the Invest in America Act.  (Coalition FIRPTA letter, March 28)

A report by the Rosen Consulting Group (RCG) estimated that FIRPTA repeal would generate an initial increase of between $65 billion and $125 billion in international investment in U.S. commercial real estate. This new level of activity would lead to the creation of 147,000 to 284,000 jobs throughout the economy and increase taxpayers' income by $8 billion to $16 billion.  (Unlocking Foreign Investment in U.S. Commercial Real Estate, July 2017) 


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Tax Policy

Business Coalition Supports Legislation to Make New Pass-Through Deduction Permanent

The Real Estate Roundtable and a coalition of more than 100 business organizations yesterday sent a letter to Senate and House tax writers supporting legislation that would permanently extend the new 20 percent deduction for qualified pass-through business income. (Coalition letter, April 11)


The  Real Estate Roundtable and a coalition of more than 100 business organizations yesterday sent a letter to Senate and House tax writers supporting legislation that would permanently extend the new 20 percent deduction for qualified pass-through business income. 
(Coalition letter, April 11) 

  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced the Main Street Tax Certainty Act yesterday (S. 1149) to make the deduction permanent.  The Senate bill mirrors legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 216) by Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Jason Smith (R-MO).
  • The 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income  (under Internal Revenue Code section 199A) is one of the most important – and complex – elements of the 2017 tax overhaul law.  The deduction was designed to provide relief to the 30 million businesses in the United States that are not C corporations, and thus don't benefit from the corporate tax cut.  It is currently scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025.
  • The coalition letter states that the House and Senate bills to make the deduction permanent will help ensure tax relief for the millions of employers organized as partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietorships. "Repealing this sunset will benefit millions of pass-through businesses, leading to higher economic growth and more employment," according to the letter.
  • The Treasury Department on Jan. 18 issued final regulations and new guidance on the 20 percent deduction.  Proposed regulations issued alongside the final rules ensure that investors who receive REIT dividends indirectly through an interest in a mutual fund are eligible for the pass-through deduction.  (Roundtable Weekly,  Jan. 25, 2019)
  • Yesterday, the IRS released a fact sheet (FS-2019-8) on the new section 199A deduction.  Among the topics addressed are the qualified business income component, qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income. (IRS news release, April 11) 

The Section 199A deduction was a key topic of Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer's testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in the fall of 2017, shortly before lawmakers released the first version of their tax overhaul. The Roundtable was closely involved in the legislative development of the provision.  (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 22, 2017) 

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