Senate Finance Committee Chair Aims to Include Workforce Housing Tax Incentive in 2024 Tax Package
The Roundtable and 12 other national real estate organizations wrote to congressional tax writers on Dec. 8 in strong support of the Workforce Housing Tax Credit (WHTC) Act (S. 3436), which would create a new tax incentive aimed at increasing the supply of moderate-income rental housing. The Senate’s top tax writer, Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), above, said this week that there is a “real window of opportunity” to pass bipartisan housing legislation in the coming months that could be folded into a possible 2024 tax package. (WHTC bill summary, Dec. 7 | Coalition letter, Dec. 8 | Wyden’s Senate floor remarks, Dec. 12 | Tax Notes, Dec. 13)
Affordable Housing Tax Credits
Sen. Wyden told Tax Notes that housing tax credits “will be part of the discussions we’ll have to have” with House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) as they discuss elements for a possible tax package in the new year.
The Senate Finance Committee Chairman also commented on the Senate floor about his introduction last week of the WHTC Act (S. 3436) with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AL), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Carey (R-OH). “Our bipartisan proposal, based largely on the success of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit(LIHTC)would help spur a juggernaut of new housing construction,” Wyden said. (Video of floor remarks | Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 8)
Led by the National Multifamily Housing Council, the Dec. 8 industry coalition letter stated, “We believe that the Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act will only serve to complement the LIHTC.” The organizations emphasized that the WHTC would spur the development of housing targeted to renter households who face affordability challenges yet are ineligible for federal subsidies.
WHTC & LIHTC
The WHTC would build on the successful LIHTC by enabling state housing agencies to issue similar tax credits to developers for the construction or rehabilitation of income-capped rental housing. (One-page Senate Finance Committee summary and WHTCbill text)
WHTC credits could be used to build affordable housing for tenants between 60% and 100% of the area median income, or transferred to the State’s LIHTC allocation for housing aimed at lower-income tenants (generally below 60% of area median income). (Congressional Research Service summary of the LIHTC, April 26)
Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “Tax policy should support and encourage private sector investment that boosts the supply of affordable and workforce housing. The Workforce Housing Tax Credit Act would build on time-tested tax incentives like the low-income housing tax credit and further facilitate the conversion of underutilized, existing buildings to housing. We welcome this positive step forward for our nation’s housing supply.” (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 8)
In the House this week, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-CA), reintroduced the Rent Relief Act of 2023, which would create a new tax credit for renters of a personal residence to cover part of the gap between 30 percent of their income and actual rent. Tax Notes, Dec. 13)
Rep. Gomez told Tax Notesthis week that House tax writers hope to include the rent relief bill, along with Gomez’ Revitalizing Downtowns Act (H.R. 419) in bipartisan discussions about a potential tax package. H.R. 419 would provide an investment tax credit for 20 percent of the cost of converting office buildings to other uses. (Rep. Gomez news releases, July 28 and Dec. 12 | news release, Dec. 12 | Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 11)
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Foreign Investment & CRE
Roundtable Chairman Raises Concerns About Florida Law Impacting Foreign Investments in Real Estate
Roundtable Chairman John Fish (Chairman & CEO, Suffolk), above, was quoted in media articles this week raising concerns about certain aspects of a new Florida law that would limit and regulate the sale and purchase of certain Florida real property by “foreign principals” from “foreign countries of concern.”
Foreign Investment in Florida Property
Fish commented to Bloomberg about Florida’s SB 264, stating, “The law is far-reaching, very, very confusing, and the unintended consequences would be very, very detrimental.” (Bloomberg, Dec. 11 | Bisnow and Inman, Dec. 12)
The Real Estate Roundtable urged the Florida Real Estate Commission on Sept. 5 to consider specific concerns about implementing the state law, which could impair capital formation and hinder the important role legitimate foreign investment plays in U.S. real estate, the broader economy, and job growth. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 8)
Need for Clarifications
In response, the Florida Department of Commerce on Sept. 21 proposed a positive clarification to one section of the law, which could have implications for similar laws in other states.
Montana and Alabama have also passed legislation with similar restrictions to Florida’s that ban the sale or lease of agricultural land, critical infrastructure, and properties near military bases to “foreign adversaries,” including China. (Inman, Dec. 12)
Broader prohibitions in another area of Florida’s SB 264—Section 204—generally preclude Chinese investors from acquiring “any interest”in any Florida real property anywhere in the state. The Roundtable is hopeful that Section 204 will be subject to clarification during the rulemaking process. (See highlighted areas in the Notice of Proposed Rule)
Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer noted in his Sept. 5 letter, “Our concern with the new law is that U.S.-managed investment funds, which are controlled and managed by U.S. nationals, may now be precluded from pursuing investment opportunities in Florida if there is any level of investor participation in the fund from countries of concern like China.”
The Roundtable is seeking a technical clarification that would permit U.S.-managed investment funds, which may include passive investor participation from investors across the globe to continue to pursue investment opportunities in Florida.
Non-U.S. investors routinely subscribe for small, generally passive minority interests in these funds. These investors exercise no control over the investments or the operation of the assets. Importantly, the investment decisions are made by the U.S.-managed funds, not by passive investors who simply commit capital for a return, not to control the underlying investments.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has launched the SecureFlorida Portal, where foreign principals from foreign countries of concern like China must register property.
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Bipartisan Legislation to Improve REITs’ Flexibility and Competitiveness Gains Traction in the House
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.