Bipartisan House Legislation Would Encourage Debt Workouts
September 22, 2023
Bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5580) introduced in the House this week would reduce the tax burden on a borrower that can arise when a troubled commercial real estate loan is modified as part of a debt workout. The legislation, introduced by Reps Claudia Tenney (R-NY) and Brian Higgins (D-NY), could help smooth the transition to a healthy and stable post-pandemic real estate market.
Restructuring CRE Loans
“From the tax law to banking regulation, housing policy, and other areas, public policy has always encouraged the restructuring of unsustainable loans to help businesses turnaround and help taxpayers get back on their feet,” said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer.
During the height of the pandemic, the federal government extended lifelines to businesses (PPP loans), suspended the repayment of federal debts, and imposed foreclosure moratoria on federally backed loans. Emergency legislation expressly excluded the forgiveness of federal loans from cancellation of debt (COD) income.
“In the case of commercial real estate, the full economic consequences of the pandemic are still unfolding. Remote work and other challenges facing cities have put stress on certain real estate assets, such as office buildings. Debt workouts between lenders and borrowers are a critical part of the solution. Workouts can ensure that these properties continue supporting jobs and economic activity,” said DeBoer.
The Tenney-Higgins bill would build on existing tax provisions by effectively deferring COD income. For over 30 years, a provision of the law (section 108(c)) has allowed noncorporate taxpayers to defer tax when a loan used to buy, construct, or improve real estate used in a trade or business is modified. To qualify for the provision, the taxpayer must have depreciable basis in the property. The taxpayer's basis is reduced by the amount of COD income, resulting in smaller depreciation deduction and larger capital gain when the property is eventually sold.
The Tenney-Higgins bill would expand on the current law COD income rules in the case of loans secured by nonresidential real property that were incurred before March 1, 2022 and are discharged in 2023-2026.
The Roundtable commends the leadership of Reps. Tenney and Higgins, both members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, above. The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Pat Ryan (D-NY).
The Roundtable and its industry partners will continue working with House and Senate tax-writing committees to address gaps in the COD income rules and encourage loan restructurings that revitalize properties, save jobs and local tax bases, and strengthen the health and vitality of surrounding communities.