The Internal Revenue Service has issued Notice 2012-68 in which it suspends certain requirements under § 42 of the Internal Revenue Code for low-income housing credit projects to provide emergency housing relief needed as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The Services has provided that low-income housing outside the disaster area may be made available for any displaced household, regardless of income, on a temporary basis. Owners of low-income housing tax credit project must obtain approval from the applicable Housing Agency for the relief described in Notice 2012-69. The applicable Housing Agency will determine the appropriate period of temporary housing for each project, not to extend beyond November 30, 2013.
The change in focus of the Federal New Markets Tax Credit Program to non-real estate businesses together with the high demand on the Program has deprived the real estate industry of a very valuable financing subsidy. Developers could use the New Markets Tax Credit Program to generate a subsidy of almost 20% of total project costs. The unavailabilty of the Program going forward will necessitate a new look at some old subsidies. For example, residential rental properties financed with volume cap tax-exempt bonds are eligible for the 4% Federal low-income housing tax credit without competition. The trade off for this subsidy is the restriction of the rental units to tax credit tenants for 30 years. However, this credit subsidy may be a very attractive where market and tax credit units are very similar or the project is focused on senior tenants. Similar traditional subsidies worth looking at in a new light include tax increment financing, financing through the EB-5 Program, and the variety of funding and subsidies available for green properties and properties using renewable energy. There may be some very creative uses for established subsidy programs in the development of new real estate projects.
While the Federal New Markets Tax Credit Program and the Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program are mutually exclusive – the former available for non-residential property and the latter available for residential rental property – the New Markets Tax Credit may be combined with other federal tax credits such as the Historic tax credit and the Renewable Energy tax credit. In the twinning structure – which is distinct from each tax credit being generated by a separate investment – the equity which generates the Historic or Renewable Energy tax credit is contributed as a qualified equity investment by an investor in a community development entity with an allocation of Federal New Markets Tax Credit authority. The result of twinning is to generate a New Markets Tax Credit on the Historic or Renewable Energy tax credit equity. While the pricing of a twinned credit will be more than the Historic or Renewable Energy tax credit without the New Markets Tax credit enhancement, the benefit may not always be significant when you factor in: (a) added transactional costs as a result of the complexity of the transaction; (b) the payment of the customary fees to the community development entity based on the amount of the “qualified equity investment”; and (c) the limited market of investors for the twinned credit. In a nutshell, a financial analysis of the net benefit of twinning the credits should be performed before pursuing the twinning of two federal tax credits.