Roundtable Weekly - May 10, 2019

Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives - E-QUIP - Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives - E-QUIP - E-QUIP - Tax Policy

Real Estate, Environmental Groups Recommend Accelerated Depreciation for Energy Efficient Building Equipment

A broad coalition of real estate and environmental organizations urged congressional tax writers this week to establish an accelerated depreciation schedule for a new category of Energy Efficient Qualified Improvement Property installed in buildings – or "E-QUIP."  (Coalition E-QUIP Letter, May 8)

  

A broad coalition of real estate and environmental organizations urged congressional tax writers this week to establish an accelerated depreciation schedule for a new category of Energy Efficient Qualified Improvement Property installed in buildings – or "E-QUIP."  (Coalition E-QUIP Letter, May 8)

  • The coalition, led by The Real Estate Roundtable, recommends "a uniform E-QUIP 10-year recovery period [to] promote productive business investment by spurring high performance upgrades in commercial and multifamily buildings. In turn, optimizing energy efficient building performance will help create well-paying jobs in the construction, design, and energy sectors; boost equipment manufacturing; enhance our country's energy independence; and reduce the built environment's carbon footprint."    
  • Legislation supported by The Roundtable is currently pending to fix a technical error from the Tax Cut and Jobs Act regarding depreciation of interior building improvements, known as Qualified Improvement Property ("QIP").  (Roundtable WeeklyMarch 15 and QIP Policy Comment LetterApril 26)  However, even if Congress fixes the QIP mistake, it would not meaningfully encourage commercial and multifamily owners to invest in expensive high-performance building equipment.    
  • The new E-QUIP coalition thus proposes a beneficial 10-year cost recovery period for efficient HVAC, lights, roofs and other components that will save energy and reduce carbon emissions attributable to buildings, their tenants, and other occupants.  
  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer said, "The purpose of establishing a new E-QUIP category in the tax code is to stimulate productive, capital investment on a national level that modernizes our nation's building infrastructure while helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  As Congress considers potential tax, infrastructure, and climate legislation, the E-QUIP proposal should have bipartisan appeal on a range of important policies prioritized by Republicans and Democrats."
  • An elective 10-year, straight-line cost recovery period for E-QUIP expenditures for taxable income, as well as for earnings and profits purposes, is the core of the proposal.  Other elements recommended to Congressional tax writers for consideration in E-QUIP legislation are set forth in the real estate and environmental groups' coalition letter.   

E-QUIP will be one of many policies affecting commercial real estate discussed during the June 11-12 Annual Roundtable Meeting in Washington DC.

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Affordable Housing - Opportunity Zones

Bipartisan Senate Legislation Proposes Reporting Requirements for Opportunity Funds; Freddie Mac Releases Analysis of OZs

Bipartisan Senate legislation introduced May 8 would direct the Treasury Department to collect data and issue annual reports on Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentives. Reporting requirements were included in the original Investing in Opportunity Act before Congress passed it as part of tax reform in December 2017.

The Opportunity Zones bill (S. 1344)—introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)­—would require data on the number of opportunity funds created, their asset classes, their holdings, and their economic ripple effects in the designated OZs where they invest. (BGov, May 8)

  • Congress approved the creation of Opportunities Zones-economically distressed areas characterized by high poverty and subpar employment opportunities-and tax incentives to encourage redevelopment in these lower-income communities.
  • The program allows for capital gain related to a current sale or transaction to be deferred until December 31, 2026 – if investors place their capital gain into a fund that makes qualified investments in Opportunity Zones.  Individuals and entities can contribute to these Opportunity Funds.
  • The bill (S. 1344)—introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.)­—would require data on the number of opportunity funds created, their asset classes, their holdings, and their economic ripple effects in the designated OZs where they invest. (BGov, May 8)
  • "Already leaders in rural and urban communities across the country are beginning to use Opportunity Zones as a valuable new tool to drive high-impact investment into their communities," Sen. Booker said. "This legislation will restore and strengthen transparency measures to ensure [the Opportunity Zones program] lives up to its original promise and delivers real impact to those who need it most."  (Sen. Booker news release, May 8)
  • "Opportunity Zones have been a unifying message for both Republicans and Democrats," Sen. Scott said. "It's imperative that we create reporting requirements to allow us to accurately measure the success of the initiative..." 
  • The Treasury Department last month released a highly-anticipated, second set of Opportunity Zone (OZ) regulations that seek to provide certainty to potential OZ investors and drive economic development in economically distressed communities nationwide. (reference169-page Treasury regulations and IRS news release, April 17 / Roundtable Weekly, April 19) 
  • No action on S. 1344 is imminent, though Congress could consider tax legislation this summer or fall. 

Freddie Mac has released an analysis of its own financial data to show multifamily market characteristics in Opportunity Zones.  Notable among the reports many findings were the following: 

Freddie Mac has released an analysis of its own financial data to show multifamily market characteristics in Opportunity Zones.

  • Housing units in OZs tend to be relatively old-28.7% of the multifamily rental stock was built prior to 1960 (compared to a rate of less than 20% elsewhere).
  • The population density of OZs is low-about two-thirds of the national rate
  • Of the 117 opportunity funds identified by the National Council of State Housing Agencies as of April, 76% have an investment focus on multifamily residential development. 

The report concludes that census tracts designated by governors as OZs "overlap quite well with areas that Freddie Mac targets for affordable housing assistance." 

The OZ program's goals and incentives were the focus of a Jan. 29 discussion during The Real Estate Roundtable's State of the Industry Meeting, which featured Sen. Scott and Roundtable member Geordy Johnson (CEO, Johnson Development Associates, Inc.). (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 15)

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House Financial Services Committee Releases Draft Legislation on Affordable Housing Infrastructure; NMHC Testifies on Issue

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) released draft legislation calling for major investment in public and affordable housing before an April 30 hearing on "Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America's Housing Stock."

The "Assessing the Infrastructure Needs of America's Housing Stock" hearing included testimony from Daryl Carter (Founder, Chairman and CEO of Avantha Capital) on behalf of the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association.

  • Chairwoman Waters detailed her funding proposals in the Housing is Infrastructure Act of 2019 in her opening remarks.  "I have put forth a discussion draft that would make the investments we need in our housing infrastructure and create jobs across the country," she said. "We also need to consider ways to incentivize developers to reduce the energy costs of affordable housing and to create housing that accommodates generations of families living under one roof."  (Committee hearing memo)
  • The hearing included testimony from Daryl Carter (Founder, Chairman and CEO of Avantha Capital) on behalf of the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association.    

Carter's testimony supported the efforts of Chairwoman Waters and detailed incentives for local governments to ease the development process.  He also specified several other policy steps to meet housing demand and affordability needs, including: 

  • Support Housing Finance Reform that Preserves the Multifamily Mortgage Liquidity Provided by the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs)
  • Expand and Enhance the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
  • Enact the Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit Act to Support Workforce Housing
  • Enhance Opportunity Zones to Incentivize Rehabilitation of Housing Units
  • Repeal the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) 

FIRPTA repeal is one of The Roundtable's infrastructure policy recommendations submitted recently to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  (Roundtable Weekly, May 3)

 

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