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Agenda - Taxation and Government Finance Committee

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Thursday, January 24, 2013
1:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Mission Statement
This Committee is a Policy committee. Its mission is to develop C.A.R.'s government finance and taxation policy. It has original jurisdiction to evaluate legislation and regulation in the following issue areas as they relate to real estate:

Commercial Investment
Government Finance
Property Tax
Transaction Tax

Hal Alpert, Chair
J. Michael Roberts, Vice-Chair

Issue Chairs:
Geoffrey Poulos, Commercial Investment
Sue Walsh, Government Finance
Sandi Adelson, Property Tax
Bob Hartman, Transaction Tax

Ted Loring, C.A.R. Executive Committee Liaison

C.A.R. Staff:
Christopher Carlisle, Legislative Advocate
Matt Roberts, Federal Government Affairs Manager

I. Welcome and Opening Comments - Hal Alpert, Chair

II. State Taxation Issues

A. Direction Requested

Commercial Investment - Geoffrey Poulos, Issue Chair

1. Successor's Liability Disclosure Statement - At the request of Jerome Horton, Chairman of the State Board of Equalization (BOE), the Legislative Division of the BOE is seeking input from stakeholders on a proposal that could be included as a BOE sponsored measure for the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session.  The proposal would require licensed escrow agents to notify potential purchasers of a business registered with the BOE that a tax clearance is available from the Board of Equalization (BOE) and also advise the purchaser of the consequences for failing to obtain one.  If a business is registered with the BOE, this proposal would require a Successor’s Liability Disclosure statement on every potential sale of such business to be provided by the seller to all potential purchasers or a purchaser’s authorized agent.  The Successor's Liability Disclosure statement will identify any outstanding tax or fee liability owed to the BOE.  Under existing law, a purchaser is required to withhold sufficient monies from the purchase price to cover any amount of taxes due unless the seller produces a receipt (Certificate of Tax Payment) from the BOE showing that the tax has been paid or a certificate stating that no amount is due.  Otherwise, the successor becomes liable for the payment of the amount required to be withheld by him or her.  It is believed this proposal will increase the collection of unpaid taxes on closed out business accounts and reduce successor's liability cases.
2. Other

B. Action Taken/Update

Commercial Investment - Geoffrey Poulos, Issue Chair

1. Nonresidential Building Energy Use Disclosure Program, Regulations Adopted - AB 1103 (Saldana, 2007) regulations were adopted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) in December 2012. The regulations require utilities serving nonresidential buildings to release 12 months of energy use data for the entire building to an owner’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Portfolio Manager Account.  Owners of nonresidential buildings are required, in advance of the sale, lease, or financing of the entire building, to benchmark the building’s energy use using the U.S. EPA's Portfolio Manager System and to disclose the building's energy usage to potential buyers, lessees, and lenders. In order to make this disclosure, building owners need to access the CEC's AB 1103 compliance website to download the Disclosure Summary Sheet as well as to access the Portfolio Manager where they can complete and submit the compliance report and, after doing so, download the building statement of energy performance, data checklist and facility summary to provide to the buyer, lessee or lender.

The regulations contain a revised implementation schedule based on building size, and require nonresidential building owners to open an account at the EPA's ENERGY STAR® program Portfolio Manager website at least 30 days before a building's energy use disclosure is required. Additionally, utilities must upload the 12 months energy use data to the Portfolio Manage within 30 days of the building owner's request.  The revised schedule for implementation is as follows:

1. July 1, 2013: Buildings with a total floor area measuring more than 50,000 square feet.
2. January 1, 2014: Buildings with a total floor are measuring more than 10,000 square feet.
3. July 1, 2014: Buildings with a total floor area measuring at least 5,000 square feet.

The CEC maintained language in the final regulations obtained by C.A.R. that protects building owners who have made a reasonable effort to ascertain missing information, provided that any approximation is identified and reasonable based on the best information available to the owner.
2. Other

C. Report Items

1. Transaction Tax - Bob Hartman, Issue Chair

 Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

a. AB 42 (Perea) Mortgage Debt Forgiveness - Existing state law conforms to the federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 relating to the exclusion of the discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness from an individual's income if that debt is discharged after January 1, 2007, and before January 1, 2013; however, the federal exclusion is capped at $1 million and the state exclusion at $500,000.  In September 2011, the Board of Directors approved the following motion: "That C.A.R. 'SPONSOR' federal legislation in conjunction with NAR that would extend the debt forgiveness protections beyond the end of next year.  Once federal legislation is approved, that C.A.R. 'SPONSOR' state legislation that would extend the debt forgiveness protections beyond the end of next year in conformity with federal law."  AB 42 states the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would conform to any extension of the federal exclusion.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Support.

b. SB 30 (Calderon) Mortgage Debt Forgiveness - As noted immediately above, the debt forgiveness protections expired at the end of 2012.  SB 30 would extend the state exclusion to debt that is discharged before January 1, 2014.

Status: Sponsor.
Position: Support.

2. Government Finance - Sue Walsh, Issue Chair

Vote Threshold Reductions

a. SB 33 (Wolk) Infrastructure Financing Districts: Repeal of Voter Approval - Current law requires voter approval for creation of an infrastructure financing district and for the district to issue bonds.  SB 33 would eliminate the voter approval requirement for creation of the district and for bond issuance.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Oppose.

b. SCA 3 (Leno) Educational Entities: Voter Approval of Parcel Taxes - The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a school district upon the approval of two-thirds of the voters of the district.  SCA 3 would condition the imposition, extension, or increase of a parcel tax by a school district, community college district, or a county office of education upon the approval of 55% of its voters.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Oppose.

c. SCA 4 (Liu) and SCA 8 (Corbett) Local Government Transportation Projects: Voter Approval of Special Taxes - The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a city, county or special district upon approval of two-thirds of the voters.  These measures would provide that imposition, extension or increase of a special tax by a local government to provide funding for local transportation projects requires the approval of 55% of the voters.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Oppose.

d. SCA 7 (Wolk) Local Government Financing; Voter Approval of Public Libraries - The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a city, county or special district and to incur debt upon approval of two-thirds of the voters.  SCA 7 would provide that imposition, extension or increase of a special tax by a local government to provide funding and to incur bonded indebtedness for public libraries requires the approval of 55% of the voters.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Oppose.

e. SCA 9 (Corbett) Local Government Financing: Voter Approval of Special Taxes for Economic Development - The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special tax by a city, county or special district upon approval of two-thirds of the voters.  SCA 9 would provide that imposition, extension or increase of a special tax by a local government to provide funding for community and economic development projects requires the approval of 55% of the voters.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Oppose.

3. Fire Prevention Fee

AB 23 (Donnelly) and SB 17 (Gaines) Fire Prevention Fees - Existing law requires the State Board of Forestry and Fire Prevention to establish a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each habitable structure on a parcel with a State Responsibility Area.  These measures would repeal the fee.

Status: Introduced.
Position: Support.

4. Other

III. Federal Taxation Issues

A. Fiscal Cliff Deal
1. Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Extended
As part of the fiscal cliff deal Congress passed earlier this year, the mortgage debt forgiveness was extended to the end of 2013.  This will allow homeowners who are forgiven a qualified portion of their mortgage to not owe income taxes on the forgiven amount. 

2. Pease Law Reinstated
Under the agreement, so called "Pease Limitations" that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers but will be reinstituted for high income filers.  These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000.  The thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation so will rise over time.  Under the formula, filers gradually lose the value of their total itemized deductions up to a total of a 80% reduction. 

These limits were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea) and continued throughout the Clinton years.  They were gradually phased out starting in 2003 and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. 

3. Other Real Estate Tax Provisions
• Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012
• 15 year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012. 
• The 10% tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012. 
• Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those the top rate of $400,000 individual and $450,000 joint return.  After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%.  The 250/500k exclusion for sale of principle residence remains in place.
• The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax.  After that the rate will be 40 percent, up from 35 percent.  The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

B. Tax Reform
Congress will still look at the issue of reforming the tax code during the 113th Session, both for businesses and households.  The deal to avoid the fiscal cliff does not do enough to put the nation's financial house in order and Congress will have to look to both budget cuts and revenue raisers.  The President and Congress have also discussed simplifying the tax code and reducing the tax rates; the cost of which may be offset by eliminating or limiting tax deductions and credits.  In short, real estate tax provisions are likely to continue to be viewed as a large source of revenue. 

C. House Concurrent Resolution 4
California Congressmen Gary Miller and Brad Sherman have introduced House Concurrent Resolution 4 (H.Res. 4) which states Congress should not eliminate or limit the mortgage interest deduction in any way.  The resolution is the same as their H.Res. 25 from the 112th Session of Congress which garnered 199 cosponsors.  

IV. Other Business

V. Adjournment