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Katrina tax bill passed with real estate provisions.

On Dec. 21, President Bush signed into law the Gulf Zone Opportunity Act of 2005 (PL 109-135), a long-negotiated package of tax incentives to rebuild the Gulf Coast by creating a Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone. It includes the counties and parishes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that were designated as warranting individual or public assistance because of Hurricane Katrina.

The measure includes many housing-related provisions. It allows housing providers to rely on the representations of prospective residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina to determine whether they satisfy the income limitations for qualified residential rental projects, including tax-exempt bond properties. This rule applies if the individual's tenancy begins during the six-month period beginning when the individual was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. NAA/NMHC were the sole organizations advocating for this important waiver.

The law also provides an emergency allocation of low-income housing tax credits in the GO Zone in 2006, 2007 and 2008 of $18 per capita--more than nine times the current law allocation of $1.90 per capita. It also makes an additional $3.5 million in LIHTC authority available to both Texas and Florida in 2006.

Finally, the measure increases the size of the credit from 100 percent of qualifying project costs to 130 percent of such costs by designating the GO Zone, Rita Zone and Wilma Zone each as a "Difficult Development Area" in 2006-2008. In addition, the law:

* Authorizes additional tax-exempt bonding authority for the acquisition, construction and renovation of non-residential real property;

* Extends brownfield cleanup cost expensing for two years and expands the program to include petroleum contamination;

* Increases the Rehabilitation Tax Credit to help restore commercial buildings; and

* Allows 50 percent of cleanup and demolition costs to be expensed immediately for costs paid or incurred on or after Aug. 28 and placed into service by Dec. 31, 2008. This includes removal of debris or demolition of a structure on real property.
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Title Annotation:CAPITOL BEAT
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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