As a REALTORÂ®, I can tell you that the tax treatment of real estate, whether
residential, commercial, or investment property, is an important consideration
for my clients.
I understand that as part of an effort to overhaul the federal tax code, the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are starting with a "blank slate" that eliminates all deductions, credits, and exemptions. I also understand they are asking for your input on what tax provisions should be maintained, modified, or improved in a potential tax reform bill. Now is the time for you to be a voice for America's seventy-five million homeowners, as well as the tens of millions of Americans who are directly or indirectly invested in commercial real estate!
The current tax system contains many provisions that encourage real estate ownership and investment. Each provision deserves careful consideration in any tax reform effort. The first rule in tax reform should be "Do No Harm."
At the very least, I urge you to maintain, and in some cases improve, the
following provisions in any rewrite of the tax code:
The mortgage interest deduction should be preserved in its current form and the limits indexed for inflation.
The exclusion of capital gains on the sale of a principal residence should be preserved and the limits indexed for inflation.
The deduction for property taxes paid should be preserved.
The temporary exclusion of income from discharge of mortgage debt (mortgage cancellation) should be made permanent.
The depreciation periods of commercial and residential buildings should be shortened to reflect the true useful lives of these assets. The temporary provision allowing faster write-off for leasehold improvements should be made permanent.
Provisions that allow for the deferral of gain on the like-kind exchange of real property should be maintained.
Our nation's real estate markets are finally on the road to recovery. One of
the surest ways to halt this recovery is to create uncertainty about whether the
current tax treatment will be eliminated or impaired for real estate owners and
investors. Congress must be mindful of the broad impact that the overnight
elimination of long-standing and widely utilized tax provisions may have on our
I hope you will express your support for the vital role real estate plays in our economy to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, as well as to your colleagues, by urging them to retain and improve these important parts of our tax system.