Tax-Law Revamp an Uphill Climb With Republican-Led Senate

“The divides they hoped to bridge remain, even without delving into the finer points of home-mortgage interest deductions and depreciation schedules.

Democrats want to use a new tax code to raise more revenue, and are reluctant to reduce the top individual rate they managed to increase to 39.6 percent. They’re also open to rewriting only the tax laws affecting businesses.

Republicans want a revenue-neutral bill that limits deductions and reduces marginal tax rates for individuals and companies. Some propose changing the rules for analyzing tax proposals to assume that rate cuts would generate economic growth and partly pay for themselves.”

By Richard Rubin,

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Thousands who received debt relief would benefit if Congress renews expired tax law

“The mortgage debt relief law expired last Dec. 31, along with other special-interest tax breaks that usually would have been renewed as a package. That process broke down last year, however, leaving people who have received principal debt reductions during 2014 — through short sales, loan modifications or foreclosures — twisting in tax limbo.” 

By Kenneth R. Harney, The Washington Post

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Homebuyer Flood Insurance Relief

On April 15, 2014, FEMA issued a WYO Company Bulletin implementing the first provisions of the Flood Insurance Affordability Act and providing immediate rate relief to homebuyers.  In the bulletin, FEMA directs insurance companies to stop charging full-risk premium rates when older properties are sold after May 1.  Instead, buyers will be allowed to assume the seller’s current rate until FEMA issues new rate tables and refunds under the new law.  NAR will continue pressing FEMA to implement the rest of the rate relief provisions according to the statutory deadlines.

Read FEMA’s bulletin to the flood insurance companies

Complete NAR’s questionnaire if there is an implementation issue

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Fitch Ratings: Failure to Invest in Transit Could Hurt the Whole Economy

One of the country’s leading financial ratings agencies is warning that if America doesn’t change how it invests in transit, the whole economy could suffer.

“Public transportation investment strategies will need to transform if trends toward increased multifamily housing, declines in driving, and increasing public transportation usage continue over the long run,” Fitch said.

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Obama signs flood insurance bill into law

Friday, March 21, 2014 

President Barack Obama today signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, which effectively reverses changes Congress made less than two years ago that drove up insurance rates in Florida and other states.

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With a new chairman, Senate committee may revive efforts to restore popular tax benefits

Here’s some good news for homeowners worried that Congress will fail again to renew popular tax benefits — especially those allowing for mortgage debt forgiveness, write-offs for energy-saving improvements and mortgage insurance premiums.

Though there has been no formal announcement, the Senate Finance Committee under its new chairman, Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), expects to take up a so-called “extenders” package sometime this spring. “This is high on [Wyden’s] priority list,” according to a source with direct knowledge of the committee’s plans.

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Realtors® Applaud Speedy Senate Action on Bipartisan Flood Insurance Affordability Bill

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – Mar 13, 2014) –  The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Steve Brown:

“Realtors® applaud the U.S. Senate for passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, H.R. 3370, to curb flood insurance rate hikes for homes and commercial properties.

“We appreciate the Senate’s swift action on the legislation, which is a responsible and balanced solution to the skyrocketing flood insurance premiums affecting residential and commercial properties that were unintentionally triggered by the Biggert-Waters reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program.

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U.S. House overwhelmingly passes flood insurance relief bill

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday night voted to undo major provisions of a 2012 law that has caused sharp flood insurance rate increases, signaling possible relief after months of rising tension among home­owners in Florida and other states.

The bill would eliminate a provision of the law that said government-subsidized rates disappear when a person sells a primary home; provide a refund for those who already got hit under that provision; and maintain protections due to sunset for “grandfathered” properties built to code after a community adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Map.

The legislation still allows FEMA to impose premium increases on homes built before those maps. But the change will be more manageable, bill supporters argued, ranging between 5 and 15 percent on average with a hard cap of 18 percent per year until reaching actuarial risk.

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U.S. House to vote on flood fix as early as Tuesday as Democrats embrace deal

By Charles Elmore

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Congressional Democrats say they have signed on to a flood insurance deal that could come to a vote as early as Tuesday afternoon in the U.S. House.

“I’m proud to announce that after much negotiation, the House has reached a compromise that will provide relief to policyholders from skyrocketing flood insurance rates,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., late Monday.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Cal., called it a “reasonable compromise.”

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House won’t vote on flood insurance bill this week

House Speaker John Boehner said this morning that the flood insurance bill has met “unintended consequences” and said a vote will not happen this week, as planned.

Speaking during his weekly news conference, Boehner did not elaborate on what happened.

Getting the votes is a likely culprit. A number of conservative groups had urged members to vote against the measure, which seeks to undo some of the changes of the 2012 Biggert-Waters law that caused steep rate hikes. Some Democrats were pushing for changes, and the bill was being fast-tracked, requiring a super majority to pass.

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