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Capitol Connection - September 6, 2013


by Robert C. Moss, National Director of Governmental Affairs, CohnReznick LLP

September 6, 2013

The events in Syria have brought an abrupt halt to the August Congressional Recess as lawmakers file back into town. For those of you interested in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), this jumpstart of a fairly short September schedule (nine workdays scheduled), compounded with the number of high stake issues is creating growing doubt about the chances for any meaningful tax reform in 2013.

Despite that doubt, for the LIHTC, the recess was an opportunity to follow the advice that Chairman David Camp provided us, which is “seeing is believing." Grand Openings were held in several states thanks to the many advocates connected to the ACTION campaign (including CohnReznick) with key Tax Writing Committee members from Ways and Means and Senate Finance in attendance. Most of the focus has been on key Republican Ways and Means Members around the “3G” strategy: Grand Openings, Grandma resident letters, and the GOP.

Headway has also been made with meetings back in the districts, including a visit to Janesville, WI, with Congressman Paul Ryan, who very well could be the next Ways and Means Chairman after next year. And while he supports the public/private structure of the LIHTC, and also the fact that state agencies determine housing need, he made it very clear “that everything is on the table” in regards to tax reform.

Indeed, House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp plans to move forward on reform and hopes to have a committee mark-up in October. He has told committee members that he plans to write a tax bill that would cut the top corporate and individual rates to 25%, and it is hard to see how any expenditure like the LIHTC or NMTC would survive in that proposal. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who has been working closely with Camp this summer (“The Max and Dave Roadshow”), has stated clearly that he supports certain expenditures if they support “an activity that would not otherwise occur in the marketplace.” Chairman Baucus requested and received an undetermined amount of letters from fellow Senators (blank slate approach) last month on what they would like to see preserved in a new code, but the letters are classified until December 31, 2064. This action alone gives you some idea of the sensitivity around reform proposals. It was announced yesterday that the Finance Committee is considering several options to move forward this fall, perhaps separating business reform from individual tax reform.

Despite the looming challenges Congress will face in the next 90 days, including the expiration of U.S. borrowing authority in mid-October, those of us who support the LIHTC and NMTC must take this opportunity to make ourselves heard at home and in Washington. It is critical that our programs be included in any Tax Reform Mark-up even if the proposal gets put on the shelf – at some point the American public will demand reform just as they did in 1986, and the Mark-up will be dusted off and used for the next battle.

Bob Moss is a CohnReznick Principal and National Director of Governmental Affairs. Bob leads the Firm’s federal and state government relations efforts, particularly in the area of affordable housing. He can be reached at bob.moss@cohnreznick.com or 617-648-1406.


This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

 

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