Lawmakers Extend Government Funding Into Early 2024; Outlook Uncertain for Tax Policy and Other Priorities

Capitol Hill at dusk

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)

IRA Tax Incentives

Tax Notes publication
  • 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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Roundtable Recommends Solutions to Ease Compliance with Labor Rules for IRA Tax Incentives

Workers on sustainable energy project on rooftop of building

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments this week encouraging the Treasury Department to provide a compliance “safe harbor” to streamline labor-related requirements necessary to seek “bonus” tax incentives for clean energy building projects under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). (Roundtable comment letter, Oct. 30)

Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Compliance Burdens

  • The Roundtable letter notes that the IRA’s objective to support retrofits and slash carbon emissions in the built environment will be undermined if the costs of labor compliance far exceed the incentives offered by Congress.
  • The comments explain that wage and apprenticeship compliance burdens would dis-incentivize businesses and taxpayers’ to pursue the IRA’s clean energy bonuses, thereby rendering the bonus credits program illusory in many cases.
  • The letter also emphasizes that a regulatory solution to ease the IRA’s paperwork burdens would spur more clean energy projects in buildings—and encourages Treasury/IRS to conduct its own thorough cost-benefit accounting of Prevailing Wage/Registered Apprenticeship (PW/RA) Requirements before issuing a final rule.

 Contractor Compliance Certifications Sought

rooftop heat pumps with solar panels in the foreground.
  • The “safe harbor” recommendation by The Roundtable would allow building owners/developers to rely on written certifications provided by their General Contractors (GCs), or any other subcontractors (subs), would confirm and fulfill all PW/RA labor requirements.
  • This streamlined approach would reduce the compliance burden and retain the fervor that IRA tax incentives could generate under the IRA. Real estate owners and developers are not the direct employers of electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, solar technicians, EV charging installers, or any others that construct or retrofit buildings. GCs and subs directly employ manual laborers.
  • The Roundtable also recommends regulators develop “Recordkeeping Requirements” for PW/RA compliance that reflect the reality of how laborers, mechanics, and apprentices are employed on real estate projects, who is hired by whom, and how hours worked are tracked.

Other targeted tax reforms that will help scale real estate’s transformation toward zero emissions are recommended in The Roundtable letter. These include expanding Section 48 of the Code to building electrification technologies; allowing private owner transfers to unrelated third parties under Sections 45L and 179D; and repealing a Section 179D rule that reduces a property’s basis by the amount of the claimed deduction. (Roundtable comment letter, Oct. 30)

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Path Uncertain for Pending Tax Legislation as Implementation of Energy Tax Incentives Continues

U.S. Capitol at sunset

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.

House Measures

  • 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)

Regulatory Implementation

Exterior of U.S. Treasury Department
  • 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).

For more information on energy tax incentives available to real estate under the Inflation Reduction Act, see The Roundtable’s Clean Energy Tax Incentives Fact Sheet, July 31)

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New Federal Rules Issued Regarding Real Estate Construction, Clean Energy Projects

Housing Construction WorkerThe Biden administration issued two new rules this week impacting real estate construction and investments in clean energy projects. 

  • Davis-Bacon: The U.S. Labor Department on Tuesday issued a final rule to overhaul Davis-Bacon standards that determine prevailing wages for workers on construction projects covered by a federal contract or financially assisted by federal grants, loans, guarantees or insurance.
    • Construction association AGC issued a statement expressing “preliminary” concerns that “this rulemaking critically missed an opportunity” to inject “more accurate data” in processes to establish prevailing wage rates in local markets across the nation.
    • Laborers and mechanics constructing transportation, energy, water, toxic site clean-ups, and other infrastructure financially supported by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) must meet the new Davis-Bacon requirements. (IIJA project map)
    • Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) projects receiving clean energy tax incentives are not required to meet Davis-Bacon rules, but they can qualify for increased credits and deductions if workers are paid prevailing wages. (RER’s IRA fact sheets) 
    Solar installation workers

  • “Bonus” Tax Credits: The Treasury Department and IRS on Thursday released final rules explaining how IRA “bonus credits” can be awarded to solar, wind, and associated storage projects in low-income communities. (The Hill, August 10)
    • Qualifying projects in census tracts eligible for new market tax credits (NMTCs) can receive a 10% solar credit boost, while those supported by low-income housing tax credits or Section 8 rental assistance can receive a 20% solar credit increase. (RER’s IRA “bonus rate” chart)
    • The “bonus” incentives – over “base” rate tax credit amounts – are competitive. Bonuses will be awarded through an application process run by the U.S. Department of Energy scheduled to open this fall.

The Roundtable submitted comments in June when the IRS proposed the “bonus credit” program. (Roundtable Weekly, June 30). It will update its summary of IRA-related agency guidance following analysis of the newly issued rule.

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Monetizing Energy Credits: Roundtable Submits Recommendations to Treasury

U.S. Capitol

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments today on proposed and temporary tax regulations regarding the transferability and direct payment of clean energy credits under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. (Roundtable comments, July 28)

 IRA Incentives 

  • Congress passed the IRA last August. The law significantly increases the size of existing tax incentives for energy-saving improvements to commercial real estate. Perhaps even more importantly, the legislation contained key reforms related to the transferability and direct payment of energy tax credits.

  • The reforms have made the incentives relevant to a large and previously untapped segment of real estate owners, including REITs, pension funds, and private foundations. The incentives include:

    • Tax-exempt real estate owners that invest in solar panels and other improvements can elect to receive direct payments from the Treasury in lieu of the expanded investment tax credit.
    • Taxable real estate owners, including REITs, can sell the credits to third parties for cash. 
    • The credit amount can range from 6% to 60% of the qualifying investment, depending on factors such as the size, location, domestic content, and wages paid to equipment contractors.
  • Roundtable comments submitted last year included recommendations on the IRA’s transferability provisions. On June 14, the Treasury Department and IRS issued proposed regulations to implement the provisions, as well as temporary regulations establishing a pre-filing registration process.

  • The IRS rules adopted certain Roundtable recommendations, such as the ability to divide and sell the credits from a single project to multiple transferees. Other recommendations, which would have maximized the value of the credits in mixed real estate partnerships involving taxable and tax-exempt partners, were rejected as contrary to the statute and difficult to administer.  

Energy Credits Monetization  

U.S. Treasury Building
  • Today’s letter from Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commends Treasury for providing greater clarity on its credit monetization mechanism and for laying out a rational process and timeline for property owners to claim and transfer credits or receive payments.

  • The Roundtable’s July 28 letter—developed by a joint working group of the Roundtable’s Tax and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committees (TPAC and SPAC)—also encourages Treasury to revisit the issue of mixed partnerships and asks for clarification that the credits are not “bad assets” for purposes of the 75% REIT asset test.

  • The credit monetization tools enacted in the IRA offer valuable new opportunities to access and raise capital for energy-saving improvements to commercial real estate. The deadline for comments to Treasury and the IRS is August 14, and final Treasury regulations are expected this year.  

The Roundtable’s Energy Credit Transferability Working Group will remain engaged with policymakers as the rules are finalized and implementation continues. 

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Roundtable Comments on Clean Energy Tax Credits for Low-Income Communities, Housing

Low-income housing development in New Jersey

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted comments today on a proposed rule from the IRS and Treasury Department regarding “bonus” tax credits for renewable energy investments in low-income communities, passed by Congress as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). (Roundtable Comment Letter, June 30) 

Solar, Wind Bonus Credits 

Roundtable Comments 

RER chart on Section 48(e)
  • Treasury and IRS proposed a rule on June 1 to implement the low-income bonus program. Today’s comments from The Roundtable seek greater clarity and certainty for building owners that may access the bonus credits, raising the following points:

    • The bonuses are available only for solar or wind projects that generate under 5 megawatts of electrical output. The Roundtable requested a more straightforward rule for what constitutes a “single project” for purposes of this output threshold.

    • The IRA’s text requires that multifamily building owners must share “financial benefits” of renewable energy produced on-site with tenants. The Roundtable’s comments stressed that any such benefits should not depend on utility bill savings that accrue directly to tenants—because owners cannot measure, track or control energy consumption in sub-metered leased units.

    • Low-income housing supported by non-federal programs through state- and local-level housing finance agencies or public housing authorities should also be eligible for the IRA’s low-income bonuses.

    • The proposed rule would offer a preference, not based in the statute, for non-profit owners to receive bonus credit allocations. The Roundtable’s comments urge there should be no bias against business taxpayers to receive the bonus to further the Biden administration’s climate policy goals for rapid deployment of renewable energy investments in low-income communities.  

  • Future Roundtable comments on IRA topics are in the works. Feedback on a proposed rule to buy-and-sell certain clean energy credits is due August 14. In addition, proposed rules to implement the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient retrofits of commercial buildings are expected this summer. 

Prior comments, information and summaries on The Roundtable’s advocacy efforts regarding clean energy tax incentives are available on our Inflation Reduction Act resources page and in Roundtable Weekly (Dec. 2, 2022 and Nov. 4, 2022).  

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House Republicans Advance Tax Package, Biden Administration Proposes Rules for Energy Tax Credits

Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee approved their proposed tax legislative package along party lines this week, including measures on business interest deductibility, bonus depreciation, and opportunity zones. (Tax Notes, June 14 | Ways and Means Committee, June 13 and Roundtable Weekly, June 9)

Tax Measures and CRE

Roundtable Chair John Fish with Jeffrey DeBoer and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO)

  • On Wednesday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO), Committee Member Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Ways and Means staff spoke with Roundtable Members about the tax measures and other issues at The Roundtable’s all-member Annual Meeting in Washington, DC during the Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) session. [Photo left to right: Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, SUFFOLK), Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, and Committee Chairman Jason Smith]
  • The three tax bills sent to the House floor for a potential vote next week contain $237 billion in business and individual tax cuts, financed by the repeal or modification of several energy tax incentives enacted in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). However, differences in the GOP caucus and requests from some Republicans to include a boost in the $10,000 deduction cap on state and local taxes (SALT) could push a vote until after the congressional July 4 recess. Any Republican tax package passing the House would face significant opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate and the White House. (Tax Notes, June 16)
  • The committee’s proposals relevant to real estate include:

House Ways and Means Committee

    • Business interest deduction. The Build It in America Act would provide a 4-year extension (through 2025) of certain, taxpayer-favorable business interest deductibility rules that applied from 2018-2021. The proposal would allow more real estate businesses to operate under the general rules of section 163(j) and its preferable cost recovery schedules. (H.R. 3938 and summary)
    • Bonus depreciation.  H.R. 3938 also includes a 3-year extension (through 2025) of 100% bonus depreciation for qualifying capital investments, including equipment, machinery, and interior improvements to nonresidential property (“qualified improvement property”).  Bonus depreciation is 80% in 2023 and gradually phasing down. 
    • Opportunity Zones. The Small Business Jobs Act would establish special, favorable rules for investments in rural opportunity zones. It would also create a new and detailed information-reporting regime for all opportunity funds. (H.R. 3937 and summary)

Energy Tax Credits Transferability

Chicago evening

  • The Biden administration this week proposed rules on transferring clean-energy tax credits under the IRA. Treasury’s proposed guidance released on June 14 seeks to clarify numerous issues, including which entities would be eligible for each credit monetization mechanism, laying out the process and timeline to claim and receive an elective payment, and transferring a credit. (Tax Notes, June 15 |The Wall Street Journal, June 14 | IRS news release)
  • Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen stated, “The Inflation Reduction Act’s new tools to access clean energy tax credits are a catalyst for meeting President Biden’s historic economic and climate goals. They will act as a force multiplier, bringing governments and nonprofits to the table.” (CNBC and Treasury news release, June 14)
  • The Roundtable’s Tax Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC) and Sustainability Tax Policy Committee (SPAC) will analyze the impact of the transferability rules on commercial real estate for potential comments on the proposed rulemaking. SPAC’s meeting on Wednesday during The Roundtable’s Annual Meeting included a presentation about an online marketplace for exchanging such tax credits.

Climate Disclosure RegsSEC logo - image

  • Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) expects to issue new climate disclosure rules by October, a year later than the original target date. The new date was included in a SEC rule-making agenda and schedule released on Tuesday.
  • Legislation to constrain future SEC disclosure requirements was reintroduced this week by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and nine of his Senate colleagues. The bill includes language stating that an “issuer is only required to disclose information in response to disclosure obligation adopted by the Commission to the extent the issuer has determined that such information is important with respect to a voting or investment decision regarding such issuer.” Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) is sponsoring a version of the bill in the House. (Sen. Rounds news release and Politico Pro, June 15)

The Roundtable’s SPAC will continue to track any developments related to the SEC’s forthcoming rule on climate reporting, including its proposal for sweeping disclosures on Scope 3 GHG emissions affecting CRE. (Roundtable Weekly, March 10) 

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Treasury Issues Labor Guidance on Clean Energy Incentives; Roundtable Comments on EV Charging Station Credit

Solar installation workers

The Treasury Department on Wednesday released initial guidance on labor standards for companies to qualify for increased incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by Congress in August. (Federal Register, Nov. 30 | CNBC, Nov. 29 | Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 12) 

Wage, Apprenticeship Guidance 

  • The IRA allows certain clean energy projects to qualify for “bonus” tax incentives (five-times “base” rates) if they meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements.
  • This “bonus” rate structure applies to commercial installations of solar panels and other clean energy technologies (Section 48 credit), EV charging stations (Section 30C credit), and energy efficient building equipment (Section 179D deduction).
  • Treasury’s guidance directs taxpayers and their contractors to the federal government’s sam.gov website to search for geographically-appropriate wage determinations for construction jobs relevant to the IRA’s clean energy projects. If no labor classification for the planned work is available, a prevailing wage determination can be requested from IRAprevailingwage@dol.gov.
  • The guidance also explains that certain percentages of “labor hours” on a qualifying clean energy project must generally be performed by apprentices from registered programs. (Treasury FAQs on prevailing wage and apprenticeships, Nov. 29)
  • The guidance takes effect for qualifying projects that start construction on or after January 29, 2023.  See Treasury Notice and news release.
  • The Real Estate Roundtable addressed labor and other IRA issues in comments submitted Nov. 4 to Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). [Roundtable Weekly, Nov. 4 and Oct. 7Roundtable IRA Fact Sheet, Sept. 20]. 

EV Charging Stations 

Electric Vehicle charging station

  • The Real Estate Roundtable submitted separate comments today to Treasury and IRS on the Section 30C tax credit for EV charging stations—or “Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property” as amended by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
  • The Roundtable comments urge the IRS to issue guidance to clarify the components of EV charging property that qualify for the credit, the geographic areas that are 30C-eligible, and depreciation matters.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, “Budget estimators expect around $1.7 billion in tax credits for chargers or other alternative-fuel equipment to be claimed over a 10-year period.” (WSJ, Nov. 29) 

Treasury’s guidance on the IRA’s clean energy tax incentives and will be among the issues discussed during The Roundtable’s Jan. 24-25, 2023 State of the Industry and Policy Advisory Committee meetings in Washington, DC. 

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Roundtable Submits Comments to IRS on New Clean Energy Tax Incentives

RER comments - image Nov4 2022

The Real Estate Roundtable submitted extensive comments to Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today that address various clean energy tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by Congress in August. [Nov. 4 letter and Roundtable Weekly, Aug. 12]

Need for Clarifications

IRS building signage

  • The Roundtable’s comments are in response to recent IRS notices on a host of issues affecting CRE. [Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 7 and Roundtable Fact Sheet, Sept. 20]. The letter requests further guidance and clarifications that would:
    • Allow businesses to “layer” multiple credits and deductions on the same buildings;
    • Support building retrofits that contemplate an asset’s “conversion,” such as from multifamily to office, within the revised building efficiency incentive under Section 179D;
    • Maximize installations of solar, wind, and other technologies to feed renewable power to buildings onsite—while also allowing property owners to “sell” excess generation back to the grid;
    • Optimize clean power deployment in low-income housing and economically distressed areas;
    • Offer a “safe harbor” for employers seeking the IRA’s credit boosts when they pay prevailing wages to laborers and mechanics involved in energy project construction and installation; and
    • Capitalize on changes to the tax code that would allow REITs, partnerships, and other businesses to “transfer” certain clean energy credits to third parties.

Roundtable Advocacy RER's Duane Desiderio, Tony Malkin and Ryan McCormick

  • Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer stated, “The Roundtable’s comments to policymakers will help ensure that the Inflation Reduction Act spurs new investments in clean energy and climate-saving measures that benefit our industry and our country.”
  • The Roundtable letter was developed with input from its Sustainability and Tax Policy Advisory Committees. Treasury and the IRS are expected to start issuing implementing guidance before the end of the year.
  • Roundtable Board Member and Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee Chair Tony Malkin, center in photo above, (Chairman, President, and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.) led a panel discussion in September with Roundtable staff on how the IRA’s “clean energy” tax incentives impact CRE. [Watch the discussion].

IRA incentives were discussed this week during a Blackstone ESG Summit panel featuring former Vice Chair of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Committee, Dan Egan (BX’s Americas Head of Real Estate ESG) and Duane Desiderio, Roundtable Senior Vice President and Counsel. 

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Yellen, House Committee Promote Inflation Reduction Act Climate Investments; CRE Webinars Focus on New Tax Incentives

Incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will accelerate private sector investment in clean energy technologies, according to remarks this week from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, above. (Yellen’s remarks, Sept. 27) 

  • Yellen announced that Treasury will host “a series of roundtable discussions to help inform our efficient and effective implementation of the tax credits.” (Barron’s and AFP News, Sept. 27)
     
  • A House Committee yesterday considered how the IRA’s climate investments will lower families’ utility bills, create jobs, and expand U.S. manufacturing of green tech and electric vehicles. (Video of Congressional hearing)

  • Several of the IRA’s revisions to the federal tax code can help the U.S. real estate sector reduce GHG emissions. Roundtable fact sheets detail the IRA’s Clean Energy Tax Incentives (Sept. 20) and Revenue Provisions (Aug. 17)

Industry Education on the IRA

Duane Desiderio, Tony Malkin, and Ryan McCormick
  • Roundtable Senior Vice Presidents Ryan McCormick (tax counsel), right, and Duane Desiderio, left, (energy counsel) recently participated in a number of panel discussions on how the IRA’s tax credits and deductions can spur energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in buildings. (Roundtable’s IRA fact sheet)
     
  • McCormick participated in a Sept. 27 Engineered Tax Services webinar. (Powerpoint slides
  • Desiderio participated in a Sept. 27 CBRE podcast moderated by Co-Chair of The Roundtable’s Research Committee, Spencer Levy (Senior Economic Advisor, CBRE) (Podcast transcript).
  • Desiderio also participated in a Sept. 28 briefing hosted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) featuring members of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC)­­ – Immediate Past Vice Chair Dan Egan (Managing Director, Real Estate ESG – Americas, Blackstone), Suzanne Fallender (VP Global ESG, Prologis), and ULI EVP Billy Grayson.

The Treasury Department is expected to issue multiple regulations and guidance documents in the coming months to implement the new law. The Roundtable plans to submit comments as the new rules are proposed to help accelerate industry investments in tackling the climate crisis. 

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