House Tax Package Expected to Follow Debt Ceiling Resolution
New Research Shows Severe Impact of Remote Work on Office Sector
Roundtable and Industry Coalitions Urge Congress to Act on Affordable Housing Measures
Roundtable Weekly
May 26, 2023
House Tax Package Expected to Follow Debt Ceiling Resolution

US Capitol sunsetThe House Ways and Means Committee may release a tax-focused economic growth package in June after a final resolution is reached between President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and their negotiation teams on the debt ceiling. The intense talks on federal spending limits have less than a week before the Treasury Department estimates the nation may default on its debt obligations. (Wall Street Journal, May 25 | PoliticoPro, May 23 | Roundtable Weekly, May 19) 

Tax Measures & CRE 

  • The House Republican tax package is about 90% complete and “buttoned up pretty tight,” according to Ways and Means Member Kevin Hern (R-OK). “We’re making sure that we don’t disrupt any of the debt limit conversations and distract from that, but it would be ready to go very quickly,” Hern said. (Tax Notes, May 24)
  • Ways and Means Committee Member Randy Feenstra (R-IA) commented that the package will likely include measures that expired last year, including full bonus depreciation and certain taxpayer-favorable rules related to the deductibility of business interest under Section 163(j)—both supported by The Real Estate Roundtable. (PoliticoPro, May 23 and BGov, May 25)
  • Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, 100% bonus depreciation applies to capital investments made between 2018 and 2022 (as well as capital improvements made to the interior of nonresidential buildings). However, the bonus depreciation benefit began phasing down this year. In addition, real estate businesses that elect out of TCJA’s limits on business interest deductibility do not qualify for the bonus depreciation benefit.
  • The House tax package is expected to extend 100% bonus depreciation through at least 2025, allowing many taxpayers to continue immediately expensing qualified interior improvements. Moreover, by reinstating certain expired provisions from section 163(j), the tax bill would allow more real estate businesses to avail themselves of the bonus depreciation benefit without inhibiting their ability to deduct their business interest expense. 

Additional Provisions and TCJA Permanency 

House Ways and Means Committee doorway

  • The economic growth package could also include provisions extending the enhanced child tax credit and the deductibility of R&D expenditures.  Housing-related measures, such as an expansion of the low-income housing tax credit, are also under consideration. 

  • Separately, the Ways and Means Committee may also consider the TCJA Permanency Act (H.R. 976), reintroduced by Committee Vice Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) in February. The bill would permanently extend TCJA provisions scheduled to sunset at the end of 2025, including the 20 percent deduction for qualified pass-through business income (Section 199A). (Tax Notes and Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 24)

  • While a TCJA permanency bill is likely dead on arrival in the current Senate, the House economic growth tax package could be the starting point for bipartisan negotiations with congressional Democrats on a limited number of tax and economic priorities as the year further unfolds. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) will be a guest at The Roundtable’s June 13-14 all-member Annual Meeting and policy adivisory committee meetings will include discussions on a debt ceiling agreement and potential tax legislation. 

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New Research Shows Severe Impact of Remote Work on Office Sector

empty office remote work

An updated study released this month by New York University and Columbia University researchers concludes “remote work is shaping up to massively disrupt the value of commercial office real estate in the short and medium term.” (Work From Home and the Office Real Estate Apocalypse, May 15) 

Municipal Finances and Financial Stability 

  • The researchers—Arpit Gupta, Vrinda Mittal, and Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh—find a $506.3 billion value destruction for the U.S. office market between 2019 and 2022. Post-pandemic hybrid work arrangements have led to large drops in lease revenue, occupancy, lease renewal rates, and market rents in the commercial office sector, according to the updated research, affecting CRE cash flow at a time when the Federal Reserve has aggressively raised interest rates. (Fortune, May 25)

  • The report notes, “Higher quality buildings were buffered against these trends due to a flight to quality, while lower quality office is at risk of becoming a stranded asset. These valuation changes have repercussions for local public finances and financial stability.”

  • The report also concludes that the fiscal hole left by declining office and retail property tax revenues may lead municipalities to increase taxes or cuts in spending—negatively affecting the attractiveness of cities as places to live and work, which may risk the activation of an “urban doom loop.” The authors note, “Future research should explore these implications and study the role for local and federal policy.” 

Moody’s Outlook 

Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi
  • Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, above, noted in a series of tweets this week that CRE prices fell in the first quarter of 2023 for the first time in more than a decade, led by drops in multifamily residences and office buildings, according to Moody’s Repeat Sales Index. (Zandi will be a guest speaker at The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting on June 13 in Washington, DC.)

  • “Lots more price declines are coming with prices expected to be off 10% peak-to-trough by mid-decade. Demand for space is weak due to remote work and online retailing. Lots of multifamily units are being built. And credit to refinance and purchase properties is tough to get,” Zandi tweeted.

  • Bloomberg reported on May 17 that Zandi noted if the US economy slips into a recession, the price declines could get worse. "We're on a razor's edge here," Zandi said. 

Roundtable Request for Flexibility 

Roundtable Chair John Fish

  • The Real Estate Roundtable continues to emphasize the need for federal regulators to allow more flexibility for lenders and borrowers to restructure commercial real estate loans facing potential default—as the Federal Reserve reported recently that CRE poses a potential risk to financial stability. (Fed’s Financial Stability Report, May 2023)

  • Real Estate Roundtable Chair John Fish, above, (Chairman and CEO, SUFFOLK) summarized the industry’s views in a May 9 MarketWatch article, noting that the Fed and regulatory agencies should grant more flexibility for borrowers, including corporate real estate developers, to restructure CRE loans. 

In addition to Mark Zandi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), The Roundtable’s Annual Meeting next month will also include Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and other policymakers. 

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Roundtable and Industry Coalitions Urge Congress to Act on Affordable Housing Measures
Affordable Housing Industry Coalition May 2023

The Real Estate Roundtable and 18 other real estate organizations urged Congress on May 23 to work with the Biden administration, housing providers, lenders, and other stakeholders to pursue bipartisan solutions to increase the nation’s supply of housing. (Coalition letter, May 23)

“Yes in My Backyard”

  • This week’s joint letter from the Housing Affordability Coalition detailed a wide range of legislative proposals and policy measures that lawmakers should immediately enact to address the nation's housing affordability crisis.

  • The industry coalition supports legislation that would eliminate harmful land use policies, promote affordable housing near public transit, and support local government efforts to expand housing supply.

  • Separately, The Roundtable joined another coalition of 285 housing, business, and municipal organizations with a show of focused support for the bipartisan, bicameral Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) Act, reintroduced on May 18. (YIMBY Coalition letter)

  • The bill requires localities that receive certain federal HUD grants to submit a public report on whether they have local policies in place that remove exclusionary zoning tactics. Encouraging high-density development is “an essential first step in decreasing barriers to new housing of all price levels,” the YIMBY Act coalition letter states.

  • The YIMBY Act passed the House without opposition in 2020. It is championed in the Senate (S. 1688) by Todd Young (R-IN) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), and in the House (H.R. 3507) by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Mike Flood (R-NE). (YIMBY Act summary by Up for Growth)

Tax Measures

  • This week’s Housing Affordability Coalition letter encourages Congress to expand the low-income housing tax credit, create a new middle-income housing tax credit, and establish a dedicated tax incentive to promote the conversion of underutilized office and commercial buildings to rental housing.

  • The letter also supports tax measures that have not been reintroduced yet in the 118th Congress, including incentives to encourage neighborhood revitalization, accelerated depreciation of high-performance building equipment, and reduction of the basis increase necessary to qualify a multifamily rehabilitation project for Opportunity Zone purposes.

  • The industry coalition expressed support for the Biden administration’s proposed solutions such as its Housing Supply Action Plan and investments that are part of its FY2024 federal budget proposal. (Roundtable Weekly, May 22, 2022 and White House fact sheet, March 9, 2023)

On March 7, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) offered joint testimony before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Tax Policy’s Role in Increasing Affordable Housing Supply for Working Families.” (Roundtable Weekly, March 10)

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