Senators look to boost commercial real estate market

The two senators say they are trying to ease regulations that crowd out foreign investment into the commercial real estate market, by taxing overseas capital gains in domestic property holdings.

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More specifically, the measure would double, from 5 percent to 10 percent, the amount of shares foreign investors can hold in public companies before owing taxes under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).

Business groups have called for the easing, or even the repeal, of FIRPTA for some time, saying that IRS rules issued in recent years broadened its scope considerably.

A bill including FIRPTA reforms passed during the last Congress. In the House, Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) have pushed the IRS to treat distributions of certain real estate trusts as sale of stock, rather than making them subject to FIRPTA.