October ACTION Update: Congress to Consider Tax Legislation in Lame Duck Session, More than 40 Percent of the House Signs on to Strengthen the Housing Credit

Chairman Brady Signals Tax Extenders Will be Considered After Midterm Elections

Last week, the House passed a series of bills making permanent the individual and small business tax cuts enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and making other changes to the tax code related to business innovation and pensions. Those bills now head to the Senate – where they are not expected to be considered, at least before the November midterm elections. There were no provisions directly related to the Housing Credit or Housing Bonds included in these bills. 

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has signaled that House tax leaders are speaking with their Senate counterparts about legislation related to tax extenders that Congress could consider after the elections. Though Senate leadership has been signaling interest in taking up tax extenders this year, this is the first time House leadership has shown openness as well. Should tax extenders advance as part of larger tax legislation this fall, which may also include technical provisions and other tax provisions, it may present an opportunity to advance provisions from the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548/H.R. 1661).To position the Housing Credit as strongly as possible going into any potential negotiations in the lame duck session, ACTION encourages all stakeholders to continue conducting outreach to your elected officials to both urge them to sign on if they haven't already, and thank current co-sponsors for their continued support. Visit our Advocacy Toolkit for resources to reach out to your member of Congress.

More than 40 Percent of the House Signs on to Strengthen the Housing Credit

The House version of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1661) gained 13 additional co-sponsors last month, bringing total co-sponsorship on the bill to 175 members, including 95 Democrats and 80 Republicans. This represents more than 40 percent of the House, a strong and continuously growing display of bipartisan support for the Credit. Recent additions include Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), Rep. David Loesbsack (D-IA-2), Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-8), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Rep. Val Butler Demings (D-FL-10), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14), Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY-3), Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH-5), Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA-35), Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA-12), and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ-4).

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill (S. 548), bringing total co-sponsors on S. 548 to 41 members, including 29 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. We encourage all ACTION members to thank your members of Congress who co-sponsored H.R. 1661 and S. 548.

New Reports Highlight Housing Credit Development Costs

Last month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report examining total development costs in Housing Credit properties. The report is the last in a series of studies GAO has conducted on the Housing Credit program in recent years at the request of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA). GAO’s report studied Housing Credit properties across 12 allocating agencies in 10 states between 2011 and 2015 and found wide variation in development costs – resulting largely from the diversity of geographies in the states surveyed. The report also details the comprehensive and consistent efforts of state agencies to ensure reasonable development costs, and makes several recommendations to IRS and Congress regarding cost certification practices, data collection, and treatment of syndication fees.

The GAO report’s findings are generally consistent with a recent independent analysis conducted by Abt Associates. Based on the Abt research and additional data from Dodge Data and Analytics, the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) finds that Housing Credit apartments cost roughly the same to build as market rate apartments, despite the additional federal requirements that Housing Credit developments must meet. Read more about the Abt Associates report on the ACTION blog, and see NCSHA’s side-by-side chart for a full comparison between the GAO report and the Abt study.

ACTION appreciates the new research on the Housing Credit and will continue to work with Congress and the IRS to strengthen and improve the program.

Senator Warren Introduces Legislation to Address Housing Affordability

Last week Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill that aims to address housing affordability and would support the development of up to 3.2 million new residential units. This legislation would invest: $445 billion in the national Housing Trust Fund (NHT); $25 billion in the Capital Magnet Fund; $2 billion in the Indian Housing Block Grant; $523 million in rural housing programs; and $4 billion in a new "Middle-Class Housing Emergency Fund.” It would also provide down-payment grants to first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined areas, facilitate the use of federal housing vouchers in high-opportunity neighborhoods and expand the scope of financial institutions covered under the Community Reinvestment Act. There are no provisions related to the Housing Credit or Housing Bonds included in the package. The bill would be funded by returning the estate tax to its 2009 level, which Moody’s Analytics found would make the legislation revenue neutral. While the package is unlikely to advance in this Congress, ACTION thanks Senator Warren for her commitment to addressing affordable housing challenges, including her recent co-sponsorship of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (S. 548).