|On December 10th, before leaving town for the remainder of the year, Congress reached an agreement on the must-pass continuing resolution to fund the federal government. The measure provides funding through April 28, 2017, which will give the Senate time to begin processing President-elect Trump’s nominations and to give his Administration the opportunity to provide input on spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2017.
While we had hoped there might be an opportunity to include some LIHTC enhancements in the year-end funding bill, in the end, congressional Republicans had no appetite for passing tax legislation ahead of next year’s push for comprehensive tax reform. We did, however, use the final days of the session to make certain we are as well-positioned as possible for the upcoming tax reform debate.
With tax reform shaping up as a priority for both the Congress and the Administration, in late November and early December, Bob Moss and David Gasson traveled to Washington to meet with Members of Congress and staff to discuss the potential impact of tax reform on affordable housing. Bob had the opportunity to personally visit with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) regarding the importance of the LIHTC. This was a particularly timely meeting because just one week later, Chairman Brady convened his Committee Republicans for a two-day retreat to discuss tax reform.
Just prior to the retreat, David, HAG Board member Mike Novogradac, and HAG Counsel Barbara Pate joined other industry advocates in a meeting with Ways and Means Committee staff to discuss the House blueprint on tax reform. This meeting was the second in what we hope will be a series of conversations with staff regarding the LIHTC and the House blueprint. As we reported earlier, the blueprint reduces the individual and corporate income tax rates and eliminates or is silent on many tax expenditures – including the housing credit. During the meeting, there was an opportunity to discuss how other provisions in the blueprint might affect the LIHTC, should the credit be preserved. A strong argument also was made regarding the importance of private activity bonds in the production of affordable housing. We hope to have another meeting with staff in the near future to continue the dialogue on how the LIHTC can function within the House tax reform blueprint.
While there is no guarantee that the credit will be preserved in the House tax reform plan, we believe our points are resonating. We have worked with our House champion Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and other LIHTC supporters on the committee to solidify support for the LIHTC, and they strongly suggested that we continue to contact Members of Congress to show them the affordable housing produced through the LIHTC program. Your efforts in that regard continue to produce very positive results.
On the Senate side, on November 29th, Mike, Bob, David and Barbara joined other industry advocates in a meeting with committee staff of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The meeting focused on the Chairman’s proposal to address the double taxation of corporate profits and its potential impact on the LIHTC. Chairman Hatch has been a strong supporter of the LIHTC, joining our champion, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) as a sponsor of legislation to enhance the credit and provide more resources for affordable housing. Following that meeting, David and Barbara met with staff of Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), also a strong advocate of the credit.
In December, David and Barbara met with key staff of incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on both HUD programs and the LIHTC. They also visited with Senator Cantwell’s staff regarding plans for the housing credit legislation in 2017, and with staff of House Democratic LIHTC champion Richie Neal (D-MA). In the upcoming 115th Congress, Rep. Neal will be the Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Committee. David and Barbara also met with key staff of Senate Banking Committee members Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to discuss CRA issues and GSE reform.
Finally, in anticipation of robust activity on tax reform in early 2017, HAG joined others in the industry as one of 2000 signatories on the ACTION Campaign letter to the incoming Congress and Administration. The letter urges them to prioritize the LIHTC as they consider tax reform and investments in the nation’s infrastructure. Many of you answered the call to action and also signed the letter. We thank you for that commitment, and encourage you to share the letter with your elected officials as you make contact with them in the new year.
The 115th Congress will no doubt bring many challenges, but also presents many opportunities for our industry. We will continue to work with our Hill champions as well as the many new incoming Members of Congress to support of our priorities, and look forward to again engaging you in that effort. We cannot say enough about your efforts at home that have made all the difference in elevating the level of support that exists for the LIHTC. Those efforts are what have positioned the LIHTC so well with the Ways and Means and Finance Committees. Please keep up this great work and let us know of your efforts as we press ahead with tax reform and our goal of increasing affordable housing resources. Thank you for all you do, and we wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season.
|Housing Advisory Group
Executive Director Communications Associate
617.624.8896 (direct) 617.624.8678 (direct)