Democratic and Republican policymakers this week debated options for financing new investments in infrastructure and human capital, including tax proposals that could affect commercial real estate and incentives for capital formation.
- A May 12 House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing focused on "Funding Our Nation's Priorities: Reforming the Tax Code's Advantageous Treatment of the Wealthy." (Tax Notes, May 13)
- Several hearing witnesses testified in favor of recent tax proposals to repeal stepped-up basis upon death, including a recent bill introduced by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). (Roundtable Weekly, April 2. Van Hollen news release, March 29 and section-by-section bill explanation).
- Concerns exist among Democrats about Biden’s tax plans, which range from eliminating stepped-up basis to raising the corporate tax rate and increasing tax rates on wealthy investors. (Washington Post, May 11 and RollCall, May 6)
- More than a dozen House Democrats sent a May 6 letter to their leadership emphasizing how the elimination of stepped-up basis could threaten farms and family businesses. “Farms, ranches, and some family businesses require strong protections from this tax change to ensure they are not forced to be liquidated or sold off for parts, and that need is even stronger for those farms that have been held for generations,” according to the letter. [Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA) news release and Roll Call, May 6]
- President Biden backed elimination of stepped-up basis during his campaign. (CNBC, “This is how Joe Biden will tax generational wealth transfer,” March 13, 2020 / CNBC, June 30, 2020 / ABC News, Oct. 8, 2019)
- The Real Estate Roundtable, along with other members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, recently released a report by EY’s Dr. Robert Carroll, Treasury’s former top tax economist, which found repealing stepped-up basis would result in reduced job growth, lower wages, and a reduction in GDP of roughly $10 billion per-year.
- The EY report, Repealing Step-Up of Basis on Inherited Assets: Macroeconomic Impacts and Effects on Illustrative Family Businesses, concluded that, “Many family-owned businesses have value tied up in illiquid land, structures, and equipment that may need to be liquidated, or leveraged to finance loans, to pay for the new tax burden at death.” The one-time capital gains tax could “limit the business’ viability as an ongoing concern.”
Energy Tax Legislation
- Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) in a May 12 statement said the committee will begin consideration this month of infrastructure and jobs legislation, starting with a markup on energy tax measures. “Following the clean-energy markup, the committee plans to consider additional key pieces of our jobs and infrastructure agenda,” according to the statement. (The Hill, May 12)
- The Finance Committee on May 18 will hold a hearing entitled "Funding and Financing Options to Bolster American Infrastructure."
- Sen. Wyden last month introduced the Clean Energy for America Act, which would revamp tax incentives directed at buildings, electricity and transportation. (Roundtable Weekly, April 30)
- Wyden’s bill includes reforms to the 179D deduction for energy efficient commercial and multifamily buildings – with the value of the incentive increasing as more energy is conserved. (Text of the legislation, one-page summary of the bill and a section-by-section summary.)
- A broad coalition of real estate, environmental, and manufacturing groups led by The Roundtable supports the E-QUIP Act (H.R. 2346), which proposes “accelerated depreciation” for high-performance equipment installed in commercial and multifamily buildings. The coalition is urging Senate and House policymakers to include this measure as part of any “green tax” package that may be folded into larger infrastructure spending legislation. (Roundtable Weekly, April 2)
- Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer emphasized an important distinction between energy incentives affecting CRE. “The 179D incentive relies on the energy performance of an entire building, without accounting for its age or tenant usage. By contrast, E-QUIP focuses on an individual building’s components – each one capable of contributing to a reduction in overall energy consumption. The E-QUIP incentive would therefore therefore apply to all buildings more efficiently, despite their age or tenant base, and increase energy performance across all asset classes.”
- Among the many tax issues on The Roundtable’s 2021 policy agenda is the Biden administration's proposal to cap real estate profits that can be deferred in a 1031 like-kind exchange to $500,000.
- On May 11, The Wall Street Journal reported on the significant impact the proposal would have on the multifamily market, which utilizes 1031 exchanges as a primary source of capital. Additionally, the May 7 issue of Realtor Magazine focused on how the 1031 proposal could present adverse consequences for communities and their economic development.
- The Real Estate Roundtable, along with 30 other national real estate, housing, environmental, farming, ranching, forestry, and financial services-related organizations, wrote to key policymakers on March 16 to raise awareness of how 1031 exchanges support jobs, economic development, local communities, property taxes, and the supply of rental housing, among other benefits. (Roundtable Weekly, March 19)
- Between 10-20 percent of all commercial real estate transactions involve a like-kind exchange. The coalition’s letter describes how like-kind exchanges under section 1031 of the tax code helped stabilize property markets at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, and will continue to facilitate repurposing of real estate assets in the post-COVID economy.
- Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) on May 11 introduced the bipartisan Parity for Non-Traded REITs Act (H.R. 3123) to boost investment in commercial real estate and infrastructure. In 2015, Congress increased the amount of equity that a foreign shareholder can invest in a U.S. exchange-traded REIT to 10 percent without generating tax liability under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA). The Suozzi-LaHood bill would extend the same 10 percent FIRPTA exemption to publicly offered but non-exchange-traded REITs.
- “Given the current economic environment and the need for additional investment in U.S. real estate, updating existing FIPRTA rules applicable to public non-traded REITs will expand available capital, create parity with exchange traded REITS, and level the playing field for investors – thereby encouraging more foreign investment in U.S. real estate and generating economic and job growth at home,” said Rep. LaHood. (Institute for Portfolio Alternatives, May 7)
Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer will discuss the wide-range of tax proposals noted above, and others addressed in the organization’s 2021 policy agenda, during a May 18 Marcus & Millichap webcast, “Tax Reform: a CRE Game Changer?”
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