Roundtable Weekly
Roundtable, Trade Organizations Urge Treasury to Withdraw FIRPTA Regulatory Proposal
March 4, 2023

The Real Estate Roundtable and 16 other trade organizations weighed in this week against a proposed IRS rule that would expand the reach of the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) of 1980.

Retroactive Rewrite

  • On December 29, Treasury and the IRS released proposed regulations that would redefine what constitutes a domestically controlled REIT and impose capital gains taxes, through FIRPTA, on investment structures that taxpayers have used for decades when planning real estate and infrastructure investments in the United States.
  • For purposes of FIRPTA and the exemption for domestically controlled REITs, the proposed look-through rule would no longer treat a taxpaying U.S. C corporation (that is a shareholder of a REIT) as a U.S. person if more than 25% of the owners of the C corporation are foreign. The result would be that many REITs previously exempt from FIRPTA would be thrust, retroactively, into the discriminatory tax regime.

Industry Response

  • On Monday, The Roundtable, Nareit, American Investment Council, Managed Funds Association, and ICSC submitted detailed comments to Treasury urging withdraw of the proposed look-through rule. The organizations wrote that the rule would โ€œreverse decades of well-settled tax law, severely misconstrue the statute, and contradict Congressional intent,โ€ as well as potentially โ€œimpair real estateโ€™s access to foreign capital at a critical economic juncture and undermine foreign investorsโ€™ confidence in the stability and predictability of U.S. tax rules.โ€ (Letter to Treasury, Feb. 27)
  • On Wednesday, The Roundtable and 14 other real estate trade organizations wrote to the congressional tax-writing committees asking Members of Congress to encourage the Treasury Department and IRS to withdraw the rule, which could put property value, jobs, and communities at risk unnecessarily. (Letter to congressional tax committees, March 1)
  • Treasury's regulatory package also included favorable final rules regarding the FIRPTA foreign pension fund exemption and a helpful proposal related to real estate investments and the tax exemption for foreign governments.

The principal drafters of the Treasury comment letter were Roundtable Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) members David Levy (Weil Gotshal) and David Polster (Skadden), as well as Nickolas Gianou (Skadden). TPAC members also met virtually with Treasury officials on February 15 to discuss the proposed regulation. TPAC will remain active and engaged with the administration on this issue as the process unfolds.

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