Mark P. Keightley
Analyst in Public Finance
The low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program is one of the federal government's primary policy tools for encouraging the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. LIHTCs are non-refundable tax credits, which are allocated to developers who typically sell them to private tax credit investors to raise capital (or equity) for real estate projects. Selling the tax credits reduces the debt and/or equity that developers would otherwise have to incur. With lower financing costs, tax credit properties can potentially offer lower, more affordable rents.
In the 111th Congress, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), P.L. 111- 5, created a temporary LIHTC-grant exchange program. The program, sometimes referred to as the Section 1602 LIHTC-grant exchange program after Section 1602 of ARRA, allows states to elect to exchange a portion of their 9% LIHTCs for grant funding. Specifically, ARRA allows a state to elect to exchange for grants all of its unused and returned LIHTC allocation from 2008, 40% of its 2009 LIHTC credit allocation, and 40% of any allocation in 2009 made from the national LIHTC pool. LIHTCs may be exchanged for grants at a rate of $0.85 on the dollar. The exchange program was intended to ensure developers were able to obtain the financing needed to complete and support LIHTC projects. Some developers had experienced difficulties selling their tax credits as a result of lower investor demand stemming from the financial crisis and economic downturn.
The LIHTC has also been included in the congressional debate on extending a package of expiring tax provisions (H.R. 4213), which has passed in both the House and the Senate. H.R. 4213 contains what amounts to a proposed one-year extension of the LIHTC-grant exchange program. The proposal would allow states to exchange a fraction of their annual non-refundable LIHTC allocation for refundable LIHTCs. The portion of tax credits that would be refundable would be the same as the portion of tax credits that could previously be exchanged for grants. The Treasury would then pay each state an amount equal to its refundable LIHTC election. States, in turn, would then use the funds received from Treasury to make grants to developers. Thus, the proposed modification would effectively extend the Section 1602 LIHTC-grant exchange program for one year. H.R. 4213 would also extend the placed-in-service requirement for GO Zone LIHTC developments from January 1, 2011, to January 1, 2013.
On March 24, 2010, the House passed H.R. 4849, Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act of 2010. The bill contains a proposal that would allow LIHTC projects receiving the 4% credit and tax-exempt bond financing to receive a direct payment from the Treasury in lieu of their tax credits. The proposal is similar to the Section 1602 LIHTC-grant exchange program for the 9% credit, although administrative differences and the timing of direct payments creates a substantive discrepancy between the two programs. The 4% direct payment program would apply to buildings placed-in-service through 2010.
Date of Report: June 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 9
Order Number: RS22389
Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail Penny Hill Press or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Mark P. Keightley