A bi-partisan group of the House of Representatives would like to think so. According to the Community Associations Institute (CAI), more than 66 million Americans live in homeowners associations across the country, with an estimated 13 million of them living in California. These homeowners pay assessments to cover the costs of road maintenance, street lighting, street cleaning, snow removal and other municipal services. However, they also pay for these services through their local, county, or state property taxes. U.S. Representatives Anna G. Eschoo (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) have introduced H. R. 4696, the “Helping Our Middle-Income Earners (HOME) Act” to correct this double-taxation. The bill is co-sponsored by US Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA).
Under the Home Act, association members with annual incomes of $115,000 or less (or $150,000 in the case of joint returns) would be eligible for a tax deduction of up to $5,000 for qualifying assessments. To qualify, assessments must be mandatory and regularly occurring, apply to the taxpayer’s principle residence, and benefit the taxpayer’s principle residence. The obligation to pay assessments must also arise out of the taxpayer’s automatic membership in the association. Under these provisions, special assessments and rental properties would not qualify for the deduction.
Homeowners associations would be required to provide a statement to each member showing the name, address, and tax ID number of the homeowner, the amount of qualified assessments received from the homeowner during the calendar year, and the name, address, and phone number of the contact person for the association. The statement must be provided annually by January 31st.
“The Home Act recognizes that millions of middle class homeowners are struggling to keep up with rising household expenses like child care, college tuition, health care, mortgage and community assessments,” says Rep. Eschoo. “The Home Act can go along way by providing relief from this tax burden on millions of middle class families.”
“Congress needs to do all that it can to reduce barriers to homeownership for hard-working middle class families,” said Thompson. “By helping to alleviate the cost of community association fees this legislation is an important step.”
|The Home Act has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, but may have trouble moving forward during an election year. CAI has taken a “support” position on the bill, and has issued a Call to Action to seek additional sponsors. Even if the bill does not pass in 2016, it sends a message to the legislative committees working on tax code changes, that it’s an initiative whose time has come.|
Blog post authored by Tinnelly Law Group’s Director of Business Development, Ramona Acosta.