by Robert C. Moss, National Director of Governmental Affairs
The good news emanating from Capitol Hill for affordable housing and economic development is that the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) approved by voice vote the tax extenders bill also known as EXPIRE (Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency) Act. The EXPIRE Act included the majority of 12/31/13 expired provisions, and was for the most part a bold and all-encompassing bill. Since being appointed as SFC Chairman this winter, Senator Ron Wyden has repeatedly said, “Tax extenders will be a springboard to tax reform and the first step will be the Senate Finance’s mark-up.” True to his word, yesterday’s extenders action appears to be a two-year bridge toward a future rewrite of the tax code.
For affordable rental housing, Senate Finance extended a package of expired and expiring tax provisions. The fixed 9% credit floor for the LIHTC was extended, and additional help for housing was provided by adding a new 4% minimum credit for the acquisition of non-federally subsidized housing. This amendment was inserted by Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) with help and input from the industry, and it strengthens preservation efforts across the country, including rural areas. Our thanks goes out to Senator Cantwell and staff for working hard to successfully argue the importance of the provision.
For Veterans Housing income eligibility, the EXPIRE Act also includes a two-year provision that excludes military housing allowances from income, in certain areas.
The retroactive effective date of the legislation is January 1, 2014 and the EXPIRE Act extends the minimum credit rates for allocations made before January 1, 2016.
The New Markets Tax Credit received broad support as well, due to the amount of private capital ($8 to $1) it has leveraged. The NMTC received one of the largest allocations in the Act with approx. $1.8B, again, through 2016.
It appears the full Senate could take up the bill by the end of May, and if passed, would put some pressure on the Ways and Means Committee to act. Chairman Camp has stated that he wants to look at which expired provisions should be made permanent rather than any temporary extension. With the 2014 elections now only seven months away, there is no certainty that Congress will act on this package this summer. There is a reasonable chance that the entire package could move forward in the post-election lame duck period, and our advocacy will, once again, remain focused on House Republicans to support these provisions.
To review the EXPIRE Act, including the Results of the Executive Session and Summary of the Modified Chairman’s Mark,click here.