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April 4, 2014
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Senate Extends Tax Provisions That Benefit Multifamily

Copyright: PlusONE

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill kept busy this week with countless appropriations committee hearings on fiscal year 2015 budget requests for the nation’s bureaucracy of government departments and agencies.  While former vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a budget plan that proposes cutting $5 trillion in spending over a decade. 

In the middle of this laser focus on future budgets, the Senate Finance Committee was working diligently on extending tax provisions that expired at the end of last year.  Specifically, on April 3 the Committee approved the “Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act” that renews several tax provisions benefiting the multifamily industry through 2015. The EXPIRE Act proposes extending the following: Flat 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and 4 percent rate for LIHTC acquisitions; Bonus Depreciation; Deduction for Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings; Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes; and New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC).  (See the details)

NMHC/NAA joined our industry partners on March 28 in sending a letter specifically advocating for many of these incentives. The real estate industry sent a follow up letter on April 1 asking Senators to restore the deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings once it had been learned the provision was not included in the original bill.

While action by the Committee to restore the expired provisions represents a positive step, the path to enactment remains uncertain and could be weeks or even months away.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not indicated when he might schedule a vote by the full Senate.  Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., who on March 31 announced he is not seeking re-election, has indicated that he intends to hold hearings and markups focusing on which of the several dozen tax extenders currently in play are worthy of remaining in law permanently. 

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High-Profile Hearings Focus on Data Breach and Cyber Security

Copyright: Mathias Rosenthal

Data breach and cyber security have been the focus of high-profile Senate Committee hearings recently on Capitol Hill, including a hearing on March 26 on the breach of at least 40 million Target customers’ personal information during the holiday season last year.  Another Committee hearing held on April 2 detailed how the private sector could protect consumer information and prevent cyber-attacks without congressional-involvement.

The Target breach has raised the profile of the issue. Specifically, the media covered the Target Senate Committee hearing extensively, as well as the Committee’s report detailing how the breach occurred – a report that suggests the company missed several opportunities to stop the attackers and prevent the breach. 

Given the amount of personal information apartment firms collect, including social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, banking information and more as part of the leasing process, the issue is also a high priority for the industry. 

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NMHC Insider
Democrats Push Republicans to Act on Immigration Reform
Frustrated by Congressional failure to pass immigration reform legislation in 2014, last week House Democrats initiated what is known as a “discharge petition” to draw attention to the issue and try to put pressure on House Republicans who have refused to vote on a comprehensive bill.  If successful, the maneuver would have allowed Democrats to bypass the regular committee process and force a vote on the floor to consider the latest proposal (H.R. 15).  No Republicans crossed party lines to vote for it, however, so it will fall short of the 218 it needed to succeed. 
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Industry Calls for Full Funding of Section 8 Project-Based Program
The Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees scheduled hearings on April 2 and 10, respectively, to review the Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal.  HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is presenting the Administration’s plan.  The budget proposal has short funded the Housing Assistance Payment contracts in the Section 8 Project–Based Rental Assistance Program (PBRA) by splitting the funding for the contracts over two fiscal years.  The program provides rental subsidies to about 18,000 properties which are home to 1.3 million residents.
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Hill Watch
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Hearing on Nomination of Nani Coloretti to be HUD Deputy Secretary, Tues., April 8
Senate Budget Hearing on Economic Growth Through Fairer Tax Code, Tues., April 8
House Appropriations Hearing on FY 2015 HUD Budget, Thurs., April 10
Senate Finance Hearing on President's Budget for FY 2015, Thurs., April 10
Media Roundup
New Paul Ryan Budget Cuts Trillions in Spending, Faces Difficult Vote
Momentum for Scrapping Mortgage Giants
The Hill
Barclays: 4 Reasons Johnson-Crapo is Dead Until Post-Election
Dodd and Frank: No Government Bailouts Allowed
Wall Street Journal
TARP Creator: You Can't Just Let All Banks Fail (Even Though You Want to)
Is Eminent Domain Ever Going to Work Out?
HUD Marks Fair Housing Month
Press Release
The Scoop

Senator Now Ambassador Baucus Selling Capitol Hill Home for Cool $1.2 Million
Former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus was once the driving force behind tax reform. Now Baucus is Ambassador to China and is looking to sell his 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath rowhouse on Capitol Hill for $1.2 million.  He bought the home for $969,000 in 2009 based on DC tax records. The house is just a short walk from Washington's trendy Eastern Market where he was often seen shopping with his wife and it appears to be professionally staged in order to reel in the right buyer. 

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