House Passes Build Back Better Act, Roundtable Urges Improvements to Green Energy Tax Provisions
Commercial Real Estate Executives Report Steady Q4 Market Fundamentals
Roundtable Weekly Will Resume Publication on December 3, 2021
Roundtable Weekly
November 19, 2021
House Passes Build Back Better Act, Roundtable Urges Improvements to Green Energy Tax Provisions
Capitol reflective glass morning

House Democrats passed their “sweeping” reconciliation package of tax, health care, education, and climate initiatives Friday morning, a step that advances a “centerpiece” of President Biden’s domestic agenda and represents “the most significant restructuring of the [social] safety net in decades.” (Politico, Nov. 19)

President Biden lauded the House’s action in a statement released by the White House this morning.

Partisan Bill Advances to the Senate

  • All Democrats (except one) supported the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), after months of negotiations between Progressives and Moderates debating the breadth of the measure and scaling back its original price tag north of $3.5 trillion. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 5) No House Republican voted for the bill.

  • Today’s party-line vote took place after the Congressional Budget Office submitted a cost analysis that satisfied the requirements of a crucial group of Democratic Moderates needed to approve the legislative package. (CBO, Nov. 18 and text of the budget reconciliation bill.)

  • The legislation now moves to the Senate where it will face additional scrutiny and could be reduced further in scope. If the Senate ultimately passes the BBB Act in a manner that changes the House-approved version, the bill would need to go back to the House for another vote before it reaches President Biden’s desk.

  • Passage of the BBB Act follows on the heels of the enactment of the bipartisan bill to upgrade the nation’s transportation, water, grid, broadband, and other “physical” infrastructure. President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law on Monday. (Washington Post, Nov. 15). The Roundtable has strongly supported bipartisan investments to modernize the nation’s physical infrastructure. (Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 12).

Progress on CRE Tax Issues

San Francisco buildings
  • Relative to President Biden’s budget and the initial bill passed by the Ways and Means Committee, the House-passed BBB Act reflects continued progress on a number of tax issues important to real estate and prioritized by The Real Estate Roundtable. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 29) Critically, the current bill does not:     
    • Limit like-kind exchanges (sec. 1031),
    • Increase the capital gains tax rate,
    • Restrict the 20% pass-through business income deduction (sec. 199A),
    • Tax unrealized gains at death or repeal of the step-up in basis of assets,
    • Change the tax treatment of carried interest, and
    • Restrict estate tax valuation discounts.

Roundtable Recommends Changes to Clean Energy Tax Provisions

Alternative Energy source CRE
  • The BBB Act’s suite of clean energy tax credits and incentives comprise the legislation’s biggest measures to fight climate change. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 29)

  • The Roundtable sent a letter to Congressional tax writers on Tuesday detailing five recommendations that aim to improve green energy tax provisions affecting real estate. The Roundtable’s letter urged changes to the BBB Act that would further the objectives to slash GHG emissions and make rapid progress toward a “net zero” economy by mid-century. (Roundtable letter, Nov. 16)

  • The letter’s recommendations, listed below, would increase and scale deployment of low- and zero-carbon technology in the nation’s commercial and multifamily building infrastructure.
  1. Clarify that “thermal energy storage systems” are eligible for incentives under the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit.

  2. Further revise the 30C tax credit to support EV chargers in the non-public, but widely used, parking lots and garages that serve America’s residential and business tenants who seek to conveniently “charge-up” while at home or at work.

  3. Better align the BBB Act with the Biden Administration’s long-term climate strategy – by providing accelerated depreciation and other incentives for heat pumps and other components that “electrify” commercial and multifamily buildings.

  4. Induce more “retrofits” of aging buildings by allowing taxpayers to claim the 179D deduction in the year high-efficiency equipment is placed in service.

  5. The inclusion of Davis-Bacon and apprenticeship hiring will seriously undermine climate goals – because the high costs to comply with these labor standards will more than offset the BBB Act’s “bonus rates” for clean energy projects. Congress should not hinge the “bonus rates” on unrelated labor issues that fail to accelerate achievement of GHG reduction strategies.

Next: The Senate in December

U.S. Capitol evening

  • The Senate will take up the House BBB bill in December. Democrats will need the support of moderate Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to pass BBB legislation in the evenly divided upper chamber using budget reconciliation rules. However, Manchin recently stated he may withhold his support of the bill until next year due to rising inflation rates. (Newsweek, Nov. 16 and Axios, Nov. 10)

  • Additionally, House lawmakers included six pages of technical changes in their BBB bill that could help it pass the scrutiny of the Senate Parliamentarian, who can remove certain House provisions if she determines they are incompatible with Senate rules.

Congress is scheduled to return from the Thanksgiving break on Dec. 3. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week warned that if lawmakers do not take action to lift the legal debt ceiling by Dec. 15, they will risk a government default on its debt obligations. (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16) 

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Commercial Real Estate Executives Report Steady Q4 Market Fundamentals

Commercial real estate leaders report positive market fundamentals across asset classes, according to The Real Estate Roundtable’s Q4 2021 Economic Sentiment Index. Industry leaders describe steady supply, demand and financial conditions for multifamily, industrial, life science and other assets while expressing some caution about the strength of office and hotel assets. Leaders also noted conditions vary by geography and local governmental policies.

Topline Findings

Jeffrey DeBoer, Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO

  • The Roundtable’s Overall Q4 2021 Sentiment Index registered a score of 73, which reflects continued optimism about general market conditions despite a slight dip of five points from the previous quarter. The Economic Sentiment Overall Index is scored on a scale of 1 to 100 by averaging the scores of Current and Future Indices. Any score over 50 is viewed as positive. 

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer (above) said, “Our Q4 Sentiment Index score is a 29-point increase over the same time period last year. This is a solid indication of significant progress in the overall economy as more businesses continue to reopen under cautious, local COVID-19 protocols.” 

  • He added, “CRE leaders are encouraged by the safe (albeit slow) return of employees to their work places, robust retail consumer appetites, and the gradual return of domestic and international travelers to hotels, resorts and other hospitality assets. The commercial real estate industry continues to play an active role in accommodating new business and individual preferences that will help the economy adjust post-COVID.” 

  • “Industry leaders are concerned with accelerating inflation, supply chain obstacles and still unclear questions regarding future office space desires,” DeBoer noted. 

  • The Roundtable’s quarterly economic survey also shows that 85 percent of respondents believe that general market conditions today are “much better or somewhat better” versus one year ago – and that 61 percent anticipate conditions will continue to improve one year from now. 

  • The report’s Topline Findings include:
    • The Q4 2021 Real Estate Roundtable Sentiment Index registered a score of 73, a decrease of five points from the third quarter of 2021 and a 29-point increase over Q4 2020. Despite the slight downtick from Q3, participants largely expressed optimism regarding the current fundamentals of the commercial real estate market.

    • That said, perceptions vary by property type and geography, with industrial, multifamily, life sciences and data centers most in favor. Delayed return-to-office policies and questions about office space demands have resulted in a degree of uncertainty. 

    • Asset values have trended upward across asset classes compared to the previous quarter.

    • Participants cited a continued availability of debt and equity capital. International investors remain highly interested in opportunities within the United States.

Infrastructure & CRE

Chicago skyline upward

  • DeBoer also noted, “The recent passage of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill by Congress will help the commercial real estate industry to ramp up its existing suite of climate-friendly practices by reimagining, building and retrofitting America’s built environment.” 

  • He added, “The Roundtable is also encouraged that the bill emphasized the expanded use of public-private partnerships to reach infrastructure goals – as well as measures that will streamline the federal permitting process and improve key federal energy data that support EPA building labels.” 

Data for the Q4 survey was gathered in October by Chicago-based Ferguson Partners on The Roundtable’s behalf.  See the full Q4 report

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Roundtable Weekly Will Resume Publication on December 3, 2021
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