Path Uncertain for Pending Tax Legislation as Implementation of Energy Tax Incentives Continues
The possibility of an end-of-year tax package faces an uncertain path and timeline as House GOP policymakers consider new leadership in the wake of this week’s historic vote to remove Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker. Another layer of unpredictability is government funding, which is scheduled to expire Nov. 17 following last week’s passage of a continuing resolution to avert a partial government shutdown.
In June, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a proposed tax legislative package along party lines that includes measures on business interest deductibility and bonus depreciation. The bill stalled due to differences in the GOP caucus over a boost in the $10,000 deduction cap on state and local taxes (SALT). (Roundtable Weekly, June 16)
Prospects for the Ways and Means tax package, other expired provisions such as the expanded child tax credit, and pending real estate-related tax proposals may depend on whether Congressional leaders are able and willing to expand the scope of negotiations over a bill to fund the government. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 29)
On Oct. 17, The Roundtable’s Fall Roundtable Meeting will feature a discussion on Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) incentives impacting CRE. (See Roundtable Clean Energy Tax Incentives Fact Sheet, July 31)
Also last week, Treasury provided new information on the process for taxpayers to apply for bonus tax credits for solar and other renewable investments made in low-income communities or in low-income housing developments. (See The Roundtable’s chart, “Base” and “Bonus Rate” Amounts Relevant to Commercial and Multifamily Buildings, May 25).
Recent CRE research shows an increasing number of colleges and universities are acquiring office buildings for adaptive reuse. Meanwhile, an overall surge in U.S. office-conversion projects scheduled for completion this year represents more than double the average annual pace. Federal, state and local conversion-incentive programs could play an important role going forward. (New York Times, Oct. 3 and CBRE, Rise in Office Conversions May Help to Reinvigorate Cities, Sept. 27)
Data from JLL cited in this week’s New York Times article shows dozens of U.S. institutions of higher education have bought office buildings since 2018—including 49 four-year private schools and 16 four-year public institutions—often for conversion to academic use.
Separately, CBRE research published Sept. 27 shows that a surge in office-conversion projects in major U.S. cities this year (nearly half of them in the multifamily sector) may help urban economies recover after the pandemic-induced shift to hybrid working. (Commercial Property Executive, Oct. 2 and GlobeSt, Sept. 29)
The CBRE report shows that 60 million square feet of office conversions are planned or in progress in 40 U.S. markets, which represents 1.4 percent of the nation’s office inventory. The report also notes that, despite a variety of government incentive programs, adaptive reuse is not a panacea for problems facing the U.S. office market, especially in a high interest rate environment.
Role of Policy
An Oct. 16 discussion during The Roundtable’s Fall Meeting in Washington, DC will address policy initiatives impacting building conversions, and other challenges facing CRE, during The Roundtable’s Fall Meeting in Washington, DC.
The Roundtable strongly supports policies that provide incentives for office-to-residential conversions. Last Dec, The Roundtable urged the Biden administration to support "legislation to facilitate the increased conversion of underutilized office and other commercial real estate to much-needed housing." (RER letter to President Biden, Dec. 12, 2022 and Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 11, 2023)
This week, Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers joined a group of business groups’ representatives to brief the staff of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy, and the Subcommittee on Capital Markets.
The Oct. 2 briefing emphasized the need for policymakers to address dislocations in the office market by 1) incentivizing the conversion of outmoded office properties to residential use to help meet the nation’s housing needs; and 2) requiring federal government workers return to their offices.
Federal government programs will incentivize local jurisdictions to pursue office-to-residential conversions, according to CBRE. Federal incentives also aim to encourage financing mechanisms to build and preserve more housing, while reducing land-use and zoning restrictions for affordable and zero-emissions housing. (CBRE, Sept. 27)
A Real Estate Roundtable property conversions working group has worked with lawmakers for several months on draft legislation to create a tax credit for converting older commercial buildings to housing.