Fiscal Cliff Avoided: What it Means for Housing and Home Builders
The fiscal cliff, an economically damaging set of tax hikes and spending reductions scheduled to begin in 2013, has been avoided (for now) and that is good news for housing in the short-run.
The enactment of H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, will extend permanently most, but not all, of the 2001/2003 tax cuts. The legislation prevents a fiscal drag of approximately $600 billion in 2013, which would have been large enough to push the current weak economy into recession. That in turn would have reduced demand for both owner-occupied and renter housing and threatened the ongoing recovery for home building.
That outcome has been prevented, although future fiscal policy debates loom on the horizon. For example, a legislative fight over the debt ceiling and the delayed sequester will take place in February. And 2013 may be a year in which comprehensive tax reform is under legislative consideration.
But for now, the following items in H.R. 8 are of interest to housing and home builders:
Business Tax Items
- Permanently extends the 2001/2003 tax rates for adjusted gross income levels under $450,000 ($400,000 single); good for small business and home builders, 80% of whom are pass-thru entities who pay taxes on the individual side of the code
- Permanently extends the Alternative Minimum patch; again, good for small business owners who are frequently at risk of paying AMT
- Permanently sets the parameters of the estate tax; positive for family-owned construction firms; codfies the 2010 $5 million exemption amount (indexed to inflation) and a 40% estate tax rate
- Extends present law section 179 small business expensing through the end of 2013; offers cash flow and administrative cost benefits for small firms
- Extends the section 45L new energy-efficient home tax credit through the end of 2013; allows a $2,000 tax credit for the construction of for sale and for-lease energy-efficient homes in buildings with fewer than three floors above grade