Bipartisan Legislation to Improve REITs’ Flexibility and Competitiveness Gains Traction in the House
December 15, 2023
A bill to increase the limit on the amount of assets a REIT can own through a fully taxable subsidiary is gaining momentum in the House. The bipartisan measure has picked up 18 additional cosponsors from the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee since its introduction in late August by Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Brian Higgins (D-NY). (Legislative text of H.R. 5275)
Taxable REIT Subsidiaries
In 1999, Congress authorized REITs to create taxable subsidiaries (C corporations) that can engage in activities not otherwise allowed at the REIT level. Common activities undertaken by taxable REIT subsidiaries (TRSs) include services such as landscaping, cleaning, concierge, childcare, and catering, among others. As professional real estate management evolved, the change was necessary to ensure REITs could compete with other full-service real estate businesses.
H.R. 5275 would raise the limit on a REIT’s assets attributable to its taxable subsidiary from 20 to 25 percent. The legislation would not change the longstanding REIT income rules requiring that at least 75 percent of the REIT’s total income come from sources like real property rents and interest from real estate mortgages. Similarly, the legislation would not change the REIT asset test, which requires that at least 75 percent of the value of the REIT’s assets consist of real estate, cash, cash items, and government securities.
The Roundtable supports the legislation to raise the TRS limitation. The issue is also a tax priority for Nareit, which is leading the outreach effort on Capitol Hill. The current 20 percent limit has created particular challenges for REITs seeking to expand and acquire assets outside the United States, such as digital infrastructure. Raising the threshold to 25 percent would restore the limit to its prior level and allow U.S.-based businesses to continue growing in competitive foreign markets.
The Roundtable and its Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) will continue working closely with Nareit and other industry partners in support of H.R. 5275 as deliberations continue on tax legislation.