Lawmakers Extend Government Funding Into Early 2024; Outlook Uncertain for Tax Policy and Other Priorities
The latest threat of a government shutdown eased this week after President Biden signed two continuing resolutions, funding some agencies until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2, giving Congress a chance to pass full-year appropriations bills in early 2024, and leaving the Biden administration’s $106 billion supplemental foreign aid request unresolved. (AP, Nov. 17 |Wall Street Journal | Washington Post | NBC News, Nov. 15)
Window Narrowing for Other Policy Priorities
Congress’ focus on the funding measures leave policymakers looking for a potential legislative vehicle that could support a separate, expensive tax package. Conversations among tax policy writers are ongoing, according to Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA). (BGov, Nov. 16)
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) are discussing a package in the $90-100 billion range that would include measures on business interest deductibility and bonus depreciation, as well as an increase in the child tax credit for low-income families. (Roundtable Weekly, June 16)
On the regulatory front, Roundtable Senior Vice President Ryan McCormick was quoted this week in Tax Notes on the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) rules affecting clean energy credits—and the need to ensure incentives extend equitably to “mixed partnerships” that include both taxable and tax-exempt investors.
“Tax-exempt investors in mixed real estate partnerships include pension funds, educational endowments, private foundations, and public charities,” said McCormick, noting that these entities have invested over $900 billion in commercial real estate.
The Tax Notes article also addressed problems posed by IRA prevailing wage and apprenticeship rules that were the focus of an Oct. 30 Roundtable comment letter. The letter quantified the large compliance costs and recommended allowing contractors to self-certify their compliance with the wage and apprenticeship requirements. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 3)
The Roundtable’s Tax and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committees will remain engaged with policymakers as the IRA rules affecting CRE are finalized and implemented. These issues will be discussed during The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Meeting on January 23-24, 2024 in Washington.
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Capital and Credit
The Roundtable and Coalition Request Reproposal of Basel III Capital Rulemaking as Banking Regulators Face Bipartisan Congressional Opposition
The Real Estate Roundtable joined a coalition of 17 national trade associations in a Nov. 14 letter to the Federal Reserve, urging regulators to repropose a sweeping set of proposed rules—known as the “Basel III Endgame”—that would increase capital requirements for the nation's largest banks. Meanwhile, the nation’s top federal banking regulators testified this week before congressional committees, where they faced stiff bipartisan opposition to the proposal. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led coalition letter, Nov. 14 and Axios, Nov. 16)
In July, the regulators jointly approved the 1,100-page proposed Basel III rulemaking, which aims to guard against potential risk by increasing capital requirements for banks with at least $100 billion in assets. The proposal could have a significant impact on available credit capacity for commercial real estate transactions, as well as undermine liquidity and economic growth. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 10 and CQ, Nov. 15)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) stated that higher capital standards could impede investment in clean energy while Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) emphasized that higher capital requirements pose a risk for mortgage loans to low-income and minority buyers. (Axios, Nov. 14)
Before the hearings, Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) led 38 of his colleagues in a Nov. 13 letter to the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to withdraw the Basel III Endgame proposal.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy Chairman Andy Barr (R-KY) also sent letters to the regulators on Nov. 14, claiming the Basel III regulations would put the nation’s financial system at a competitive disadvantage.
More Feedback for Basel III
During the hearings, the Fed’s Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr defended the proposals, yet responded that regulators are “quite open to comment, and we want to improve the rule before we get to a final rule.”
On Oct. 20, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC announced an extension of the comment period on the Basel capital proposal from Nov. 30, 2023 to Jan. 16, 2024. The agencies also launched a quantitative impact study to clarify the estimated effects of the proposal, with the data collection deadline also due Jan. 16.
Since the deadline for stakeholder comments is the same day as the impact study’s final data collection deadline, there is broad concern that the regulators’ failed to provide industry participants with an opportunity to assess and comment on any of the Agencies’ collected data. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 27)
The Roundtable’s Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee (RECPAC) discussed the capital requirements proposal during its Nov. 8 meeting in New York. RECPAC welcomes Roundtable membership input as it works on a Basel III comment letter due in January. (Contact Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers)
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Business Coalition Urges Congress to Nullify Expansive Joint Employer Rule
The Real Estate Roundtable and a coalition of major business groups sent a letter to all members of Congress last week in support of a joint resolution that would nullify a final rule of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB “joint employer” rule—scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 26—would render employers vulnerable to claims by “indirect” workers who are not immediate hires. The policy has significant implications that could subject parent-level hotel and restaurant companies, other franchise-model businesses, and companies that hire contractors and subs to expansive joint employer liability. (Coalition letter, Nov. 9 and AP, Nov. 13)
The NLRB rule overturns Trump-era policy and returns to an Obama-era position that makes employers liable to workers they do not directly hire or manage. It also holds joint employers liable for workplace issues they do not control, which range from collective bargaining to workplace safety conditions.
The Obama-era version—in place from 2015 to 2017—cost small business franchise operators $33 billion per year, according to the International Franchise Association (IFA). It resulted in 376,000 lost job opportunities and led to 93% more lawsuits against these businesses.
The Roundtable joined the coalition letter led by IFA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other real estate group signatories include the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), the National Association of Home Builders, the National Multifamily Housing Council, and national general contracting organizations.
The measure could pass the House but is not expected to advance in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
The U.S. Chamber and other business organizations who are signatories on the coalition letter sent last week also filed a lawsuit challenging the joint employer rule on Nov. 9. Unions groups will likely seek to intervene to defend the NRLB rule. (U.S. Chamber case updates)
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The Roundtable and Broad Business Coalition Urge Congress to Pass One-Year Delay to Beneficial Ownership Rules
The Roundtable signed onto a letter yesterday with approximately 70 business groups that urges Congress to pass a one-year delay in implementing burdensome “beneficial ownership” reporting requirements. (Coalition letter and PoliticoPro, Nov. 16)
The new regulations—scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024 under the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA)—would be implemented by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The CTA requires the submission of regular reports to the federal government identifying the beneficial owners of businesses and other legal entities. The new law defines the targeted entities as those having 20 or fewer employees and under $5 million in revenue, which would impact nearly every small business in the nation.
The CTA includes civil and criminal penalties of up to $10,000 and two years of jail time for failing to comply.
The scope of the data collection is expansive. Covered entities will be required to provide the personal information of owners, board members, senior employees, attorneys, and more, then monitor the information and report all changes. FinCEN expects to receive more than 32 million separate reports in 2024, with an additional five to six million filings each year thereafter.
The coalition letter states, “A year’s delay will provide FinCEN and the business community with more time to educate owners of their new obligations. It will also give Congress and FinCEN time to review the new rules to ensure they are successful.”
AICPA & Updated FAQs
This week’s letter also notes that the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently requested a one-year delay from FinCEN. (AICPA coalition letter, Oct. 30)
AICPA noted in its letter that FinCEN significantly underestimated the cost burdens associated with the new reporting regime, relied on vague and arbitrary standards in laying out the criminal and civil penalties under the statute, and implemented filing deadlines for newly-formed entities that in some cases are impossible to meet.
On Oct. 13, The Real Estate Roundtable and a coalition of eight other national real estate groups urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to delay implementation of the new beneficial ownership rule. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 20 and Industry coalition letter)
Yesterday, FinCEN issued updates to its beneficial ownership “frequently asked questions.” The FAQs include new information about the reporting process, reporting companies, beneficial owners, company applicants, reporting requirements, initial reports, and reporting company exemptions. It also includes new resources related to beneficial owners, initial reports, FinCEN identifiers, and third-party service providers. (.pdf version of the FAQs)
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CRE Policy News
Roundtable Weekly Will Resume Publication on Friday, December 1
The Roundtable’s policy news digest will resume publication on Friday, December 1 after the Thanksgiving break. Recent issues of Roundtable Weekly can be searched by keyword here.