House Republicans Unveil Tax Agenda for 2023

House GOP Announces Commitment Plan

In advance of the November midterm elections, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, above, and the House GOP Conference released their Commitment to America today in Pittsburgh. The platform includes forward-looking tax and economic policy proposals that, if enacted, would impact commercial real estate in important ways. (Document and video, Sept. 23)

GOP Tax Proposals

  • The Commitment to America is the product of months of work by task forces created by the House Leader to develop a policy agenda to unify House Republicans. The tax proposals are outlined in a document entitled “Growth Through Innovation” developed by Republicans’ Jobs and the Economy Task Force. (Bloomberg Sept. 23ABC News Sept. 22)
  • The proposals are aimed at providing more tax relief to individuals and small businesses. Proposals affecting real estate include:
    • Permanently extending 20% deduction for pass-through business income enacted in 2017,
    • Enacting additional estate tax relief for family-owned businesses, and

    • Extending rules that facilitate the full deductibility of business interest expense.
  • Other areas of focus include middle class tax relief, increasing tax incentives for R&D, bringing jobs back to the United States, and tax simplification.

TCJA Tax Cuts

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)

  • Senior Ways and Means Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), above, introduced legislation this week to make permanent tax cuts for individuals and small businesses enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. The Buchanan legislation was endorsed in House Republicans’ Commitment to America released today. (Buchanan news release, Sept. 21)
  • The TCJA Permanency Act (H.R.8913) also includes several technical fixes. Without Congressional action, 23 different provisions of the 2017 Republican tax law are set to expire after 2025.

  • The current deduction for qualified business income (Section 199A) was part of the TCJA. Designed to ensure pass-through businesses received tax relief alongside the large tax cut for public corporations, the provision allows real estate and other pass-through businesses to deduct up to 20% of their net business income.”
  • Buchanan, the most senior member on the House Ways and Means Committee, is running to become the next top Republican on the powerful tax policy panel. (The Hill, April 15, 2021)

CRE Policy Webinars

Seattle skyline

Desiderio will also participate in another Sept. 28 virtual briefing on the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax incentives, hosted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI registration). The  webinar features members of The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC)­­—Immediate Past SPAC Vice Chair Dan Egan (Managing Director, Real Estate ESG – Americas, Blackstone), Suzanne Fallender (VP Global ESG, Prologis), and ULI EVP Billy Grayson.

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Roundtable Encouraging Congress to Ensure Fair Treatment of Pass-Through Businesses in Final Reconciliation Bill

House Ways and Means Committee graphic

As negotiations continue on a multi-trillion reconciliation bill, The Real Estate Roundtable is urging lawmakers to ensure that any final agreement on tax changes treats pass-through businesses fairly and equitably.

Why It Matters

  • The reconciliation bill approved by the House Ways and Means Committee excluded several real estate-related tax proposals put forward by the Biden administration that could cause unnecessary harm to job creation, real estate values, and local communities that rely on property tax revenue. These proposals included restrictions on like-kind exchanges, repealing the step-up in basis of assets at death, and tax parity between ordinary income and capital gains. (Roundtable Weekly, Sept. 17)
  • At the same time, through the combination of several, independent tax changes aimed at upper-income taxpayers, the current reconciliation bill in the House would raise the top marginal income tax rate on many pass-through business owners from 29.6% today to 46.4% (a 57% increase)

Contact Congress

  • The Roundtable believes this level of increase on pass-through businesses was unintended by Members of Congress and could undercut the bill’s own objectives of stimulating job growth, improving housing availability, and promoting investment in economically struggling communities, among other priorities.
  • See The Roundtable’s detailed summary on “Pass-Through Businesses and the Reconciliation Bill.” 

  • “Small and closely held businesses are the principal drivers of job growth and entrepreneurial activity in our economy.  The increase in the tax burden on pass-through businesses is disproportionately large relative to the tax changes for large, multinational corporations. The bill would create a historically high differential in the tax rates between pass-throughs and C corps and could put pass-through businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the economy. We do not believe this was the intent of the bill drafters,” said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer.  

  • The dramatic increase in the pass-through tax rate results in part from capping the 20% deduction on pass-through business income (section 199A).  Other changes include increasing the top tax rate on ordinary income from 37 to 39.6 percent, expanding the scope of the 3.8% tax on net investment income, and imposing a 3% surtax on incomes above $5 million.
  • As currently proposed, the rate differential between pass-throughs (46.4%) and C corps (26.5%) would be 20 percentage points, more than twice the level of any period over the last four decades. Real estate partnerships constitute half of the four million partnerships in the United States.

Roundtable members and others are encouraged to reach out to their Representatives and contact their Senators to urge them to preserve the 20% deduction for pass-through business income (section 199A), which is directly tied to hiring workers and investing in capital equipment and property.  Modest adjustments in the legislation would ensure that pass-through businesses will continue contributing to economic growth, innovation, and job creation. Additional information and talking points can be found here.  

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Tax Proposals Under Scrutiny as Timetable Moves Up for Mammoth Reconciliation Bill

The unanticipated commitment by Speaker Pelosi to allow a stand-alone vote on the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill no later than September 27 has scrambled the Congressional calendar and put increased attention and focus on the potential for major tax changes.

Why It Matters

  • House Leaders are urging committees, including the powerful Ways and Means Committee, to complete their work on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill by September 15.  Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal has indicated a formal mark-up could start the week of Sept. 6 and continue 4-5 days.  (E&E Daily, Aug. 25)
  • Accelerating the consideration of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill may allow its supporters and advocates to retain political momentum for the massive package of social safety net, environmental, tax, and other policies—momentum that could be lost once the infrastructure bill is sent to the President.
  • The shortened timetable, however, puts pressure on lawmakers who are considering complex changes to the tax code that would normally require hearings, extended debate, and substantial vetting.  

Industry Concerns

  • The Real Estate Roundtable has raised concerns regarding a number of proposals in the President’s plan that would raise the tax burden on capital formation, undermine property values and the functioning of real estate markets, and harm the industry’s ability to create jobs and support local communities through property tax revenue.  These proposals include restrictions on like-kind exchanges, an elimination of the reduced tax rate on capital gains, and the taxation of unrealized gains at death.
  • On Tuesday, the accounting industry expressed strong concerns with the President’s proposed changes to capital income. The letter noted that, “[t]he taxation of the capital gains on gift or death in many cases would be the third time that the gain is taxed.”  Imposing immediate tax on transfers by gift or death is an unreasonable requirement when the transfers are non-liquid assets such as real estate, business interests, etc., because it may require the forced liquidation of some or all of the assets transferred,” they continued.    
  • Last Friday, the Tax Foundation challenged the Administration’s claim that their tax proposals would spare 97 percent of small businesses.  The organization analyzed the most recent IRS data and concluded the President’s proposals would reach more than half of pass-through business income (because 54% of pass-through income is earned by taxpayers making more than $500,000).
  • At the same time, lawmakers are mobilizing to ensure that the $3.5 trillion bill includes priorities such as increased investment in affordable housing.  On Thursday, 111 House Democrats led by Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Don Beyer (D-VA) wrote to Speaker Pelosi urging that the legislation include a significant expansion of the low-income housing tax credit.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Introduces Bill to Restrict 20% Pass-through Business Income Deduction

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), above, unveiled new legislation this week that would phase out the 20-percent pass-through business income deduction for taxpayers earning more than $400 thousand a year. (CNBC, July 21 and Wyden news release, July 20) 

  • The current deduction for qualified business income (Section 199A) allows certain taxpayers, such as sole proprietors, partners in partnerships and shareholders of S-corporations, to deduct up to 20% of their net business income.
  • The deduction was enacted as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which  reduced the corporate tax rate by 40%. Since the vast majority of American businesses are taxed as pass-throughs, the deduction ensured that the benefits of TCJA were more evenly distributed.

Why It Matters

  • Section 199A is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2025. Wyden’s proposed overhaul, if enacted, would start with the 2022 tax year. (CQ and BGov, July 20 | one-page summary  | text of the bill)
  • Wyden estimated that his Small Business Tax Fairness Act could raise $147 billion in revenue, based on a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis from 2018. The Senate Finance Committee Chairman also noted that he may add the bill to the Biden administration’s $3.5 billion “human” infrastructure proposal later this fall. (Tax Notes, July 21) 

Roundtable Response 

  • The Roundtable, as part of a broad business coalition, last month expressed strong opposition to any reductions or repeal of the Section 199A deduction – including phasing it out above a certain income threshold – to the leadership of the tax-writing Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees. (Coalition letter, June 22 and Roundtable Weekly, June 25) 
  • The coalition’s letter emphasized how nearly 40 percent of individually- and family-owned businesses closed their doors during the COVID pandemic – and that Section 199A provided critical tax relief during that time.
  • “There are nearly two million real estate partnerships with more than 8.6 million partners in the United States,” said Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer, above, in response to the new legislation. “Among other benefits, the pass-through deduction allows these real estate businesses to focus on creating jobs, investing in underserved neighborhoods, and creating productive, sustainable properties that support the local tax base. Congress should permanently extend the pass-through deduction. The proposed restrictions are a step in the wrong direction.”   

President Biden proposed phasing out the Section 199A deduction for qualified business income above $400,000 during his presidential campaign. However, that proposal was not included in his Build Back Better agenda released earlier this year or his formal budget proposal. (Tax Notes, July 21) 

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Real Estate Roundtable Testifies Before Senate on Business Tax Reform

Rational Taxation of Real Estate Urged to Spur Job Creation, Encourage Business Expansion and Contribute to GDP Growth

WASHINGTON, DC — Real Estate Roundtable President and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey DeBoer today testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, encouraging modest changes to the current taxation of commercial real estate that would continue to encourage economic growth while cautioning policymakers on specific business tax reform concepts that could cause severe market dislocation.

During today’s Senate hearing on Business Tax Reform, DeBoer testified, “Importantly, commercial real estate markets are largely in balance with supply, only modestly exceeding demand.  Despite our industry’s relative positive health, we know the underlying economy can and should grow more rapidly.”  DeBoer added that The Roundtable is concerned that some concepts under discussion in tax reform are risky, untested and have the potential to cause severe dislocation – not only in real estate markets but in the nations’ capital markets as well.

In his written testimony and his oral statement, The Real Estate Roundtable’s President and CEO addressed specific elements of potential tax reform.  (See Senate Finance Committee webcast and documents at Below is a summary of policy issues covered in his testimony:

  • Business interest deduction.  DeBoer noted that interest, the cost of borrowing, is an ordinary and necessary business expense that has always been deductible.  Today, U.S. capital markets are the deepest in the world, but restrictions would deter business formation and expansion.  The impact would fall disproportionately on entrepreneurs and other developers likely to serve small and medium-sized markets.  As interest rates rise, the harm to the economy will grow.
  • Cost recovery / expensing.  Current cost recovery rules need reform, but 100 percent expensing of real estate is a risky and untested proposal.  Accelerated depreciation of real estate in the early 1980s led to tax-driven, uneconomic investment.  Tax rules should reflect the economic life of structures.  Leading research by MIT suggests existing depreciation schedules for real estate are too long.  Shortening depreciation to 20 years would spur sustainable and economically sound investment.   


  • Pass-through reform.  U.S. pass-through tax rules create a dynamic, flexible business environment that supports entrepreneurship and productive investment.  Tax reform should provide equitable relief for pass-throughs.  A new, reduced tax rate for pass-through business income should avoid “cliffs”, phase-outs, and carve-outs that discriminate against certain taxpayers and create new economic distortions.    


  • Capital gains.  The tax code should encourage entrepreneurial activity and risk-taking through low capital gains rates and continue to recognize that risk can involve more than the contribution of capital.  Reform should also preserve like-kind exchanges, which get properties into the hands of new owners with the time and resources to invest in job-creating property improvements.


  • State and local tax deduction.  Tax reform should retain the deductibility of state and local taxes.  Eliminating the state and local tax deduction would undercut the principal source of financing for schools, roads, law enforcement, and other needed infrastructure and public services.


  • FIRPTA.  Tax reform should boost job growth and domestic investment by repealing outdated tax barriers to foreign investment in U.S. real estate and infrastructure.


  • Infrastructure.  An infrastructure initiative in tax reform is needed to create jobs, reflect the changing transportation needs of Americans and increase productivity, all to benefit the GDP.  

In his testimony, DeBoer said that although tax reform should unleash entrepreneurship, capital formation, and job creation – Congress should also undertake reform with caution, given the potential for economic dislocation and unintended consequences. 

As an example of over-reactive government policies, DeBoer noted past tax reform efforts in 1981 and 1986, which combined, created severe dislocation in real estate markets nationwide; led to job losses and bankruptcies; and contributed to the demise of the savings and loan industry.

The Roundtable’s President and CEO also addressed the federal deduction for state and local property and income taxes. “Ending the federal deduction for state and local property and income taxes could potentially cause significant issues in our nation’s cities, as some businesses relocate for no reason other than taxes. We urge that this idea be rejected,” DeBoer said.

He also testified about the crucial need to preserve interest deductibility.  “Eliminating or limiting the deduction for interest on business debt would cause great dislocation in capital markets, slow economic activity and lessen the unique importance of America’s capital markets,” DeBoer said.

After noting that commercial real estate markets today are estimated to account for nearly 20 percent of America’s GDP and employ millions of Americans, he added that real estate provides local governments with its largest revenue source and plays a key role in the retirement savings and wealth creation of Americans.  “Properly designed tax reform can spur job creation, encourage more robust business expansion and result in a sustainable increase in GDP,” DeBoer testified.  

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