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Congress Tax Relief Proposal Good Harbinger for NYC Brownfields?

12 Jun 2018 5:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Steve Dwyer

States threatened with brownfield funding dilemmas—which is most of them—might get a much-needed shot in the arm soon: It comes in the form of federal-sponsored tax breaks for brownfield projects.

But in late April, a potential “knight in shining armor” emerged: Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House that would authorize tax deductions toward the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields—a huge potential shot in the arm for New York City’s large portfolio of brownfield properties that need capital infusion.

The proposal is armed with New York-level endorsement as Rep. Peter King is a cosponsor of H.R. 5579, calling the tax incentive “an essential piece” for reviving the many contaminated sites. “Rather than spreading deductions over time, this legislation will encourage private-sector involvement in the cleanup and rehabilitation of brownfields properties,” King said in a statement about the legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).

Clearly, the U.S. Senate and House need more folks who “get it,” like King and Turner. That is, understanding the magnitude of impact that brownfield properties have on the fortunes of local communities.

Rep. Turner witnessed up close and personally the impacts of funding for local brownfields when he served as mayor of Dayton, Ohio. “I developed brownfields to reinvest in our city and spur economic growth, including the building of the Dayton Dragons stadium,” Rep. Turner said. “I know firsthand how important brownfields are for communities looking to rebuild. Our bill extends the brownfields tax credit to help cities like Dayton continue to grow.”

The Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Incentive Reauthorization Act of 2018, H.R. 5579, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend expensing of environmental remediation costs through 2021. Sound familiar to some of you? It should. Brownfield practitioners know the historical narrative. The brownfields tax incentive was first ratified as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, permitted taxpayers to deduct remediation expenditures for the cleanup of a property that was used for a trade, business or to produce income. A two-year extension occurred in 2009 and then expired on Jan. 1, 2012 and hasn’t been reauthorized since.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) joined Turner in introducing H.R. 5579, which has been referred to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. “I hear time and time again from business owners, developers and local leaders across central and northwestern Connecticut that the high costs of cleanup deter initial private sector investments,” Rep. Esty said in a news report. “Cities and towns throughout Connecticut have strong industrial histories and are now in the process of transitioning to new sources of economic growth, which is critical to creating good-paying jobs right here in our state. I’m doing what I can to be a strong partner in these efforts.”

If enacted, H.R. 5579 would reauthorize the tax incentive through Dec. 31, 2021, and provide four years of certainty for potential developers, according to the congressman’s staff.

Let’s hope that Reps. King and Turner get majority buy-in from the U.S. House because the clock is ticking on the position, and fate, of a good number of New York City brownfield projects. H.R. 5579 is one integral means to supporting that end.

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