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End of lame duck session of Congress – Mortgage Debt Forgiveness and TRIA update

Dec 18, 2014
The United States Senate adjourned on December 16, sine die at 11:25 p.m.  This marks the formal end of the 113th Congress, meaning any legislation not enacted must be reintroduced in the 114th Congress, which will begin on January 6, 2015.

The end of the “lame duck” session had mixed results for REALTORS. Congress did enact a series of tax extensions. The “Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” is included in the package approved by the U.S. House and Senate and is now headed to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature into law.

In addition to the mortgage forgiveness provisions that will help distressed homeowners there are also provisions affecting commercial property investors who made transactions during 2014.  The legislation also includes one-year extensions of the 15-year depreciation schedule for leasehold improvements and the deduction for improvements to energy efficient commercial buildings.

The effort to include the “Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act” was bipartisan and bicameral.  Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Dean Heller, R-NV, have supported the bill from day one.  Congressmen Tom Reed, R-NY, and Charlie Rangel, D-NY, have also championed the provision throughout the process. 

Shockingly, the United States Senate failed to renew the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).  This alarming failure to act before adjournment could stall commercial real estate development around the country. The Senate missed an opportunity to approve a six-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act that passed the U.S House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The bill died when senators were unable to reach a unanimous consent agreement that would have allowed the bill to proceed.  

Despite this temporary set-back, REALTORS will work closely with Congress in 2015 to swiftly reenact TRIA and provide much needed certainty to the commercial market.
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