The Word From D.C.: Tax Reform

May 18, 2017

Always Be Networking: Valuable connections abound at the Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

High Hurdle for Tax Reform

“No Republicans want to say they got nothing done.”
—Fox News journalist Chris Wallace

Tax reform is a priority of President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress, but “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace said Wednesday at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo that there's little chance of it getting passed this year. That's because there are too many issues to work out before lawmakers turn their attention to midterm elections. Health reform, on the other hand, is a likely bet because Republicans have an incentive to go into the elections with at least one major accomplishment behind them. Read more.

Taxing Matters

The tax reform proposal being considered by federal lawmakers would sharply reduce the number of American households that can take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction, boost taxes for middle-income homeowners, and cause home prices to fall, according to an analysis of the plan prepared for the National Association of REALTORS® by the consulting firm PwC. Under current law, homeowners cover 83 percent of the country's personal income tax bill despite the $1.3 trillion in deductions they claim for mortgage interest and property taxes.

Collect Taxes From Amazon, Not REALTORS® 

Brick-and-mortar businesses are frequently at a disadvantage compared to online retailers in states that don’t collect sales tax for internet transactions. Commercial Legislation and Regulatory Advisory Board Chair Michael Schoonover encouraged his fellow REALTORS® to incorporate calls to level the playing field between online commercial activity and Main Street. He called for these issues to be part of their advocacy on Capitol Hill this week. “Those are jobs issues,” he said. “Congress loves to talk about jobs.” As many states struggling with budget shortfalls seek ways to increase revenue, businesses and real estate pros may find themselves targeted to help fill the gap.

Global Policies Could Hurt Foreign Market

The future health of the international real estate market could be jeopardized as policies in the U.S. and other countries, such as the Brexit vote and President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban, shift toward an antiglobalist ideology. While the consequences for foreign investors have yet to be fully understood, for now, international buyers seem unfazed and continue to flock toward U.S. home purchases. But will it last?

The Buck Stops With You

Money launderers are using shell companies to buy real estate as a way to harbor their illegal profits in the U.S. But the Treasury Department is cracking down on the practice with an information gathering program, working with title insurance companies to target this activity in specific regions. Brokers and agents are also encouraged to look for money-laundering red flags. Learn how to spot suspicious transactions and how to report them.

—REALTOR® Magazine