Senate Republicans slipped a tax break for wealthy real estate investors into the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

A provision slipped into the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package by Senate Republicans enables wealthy real estate investors to reduce their tax burden, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Designed to benefit households with over $500,000 in nonbusiness income, the measure allows investors to apply on-paper losses from falling property values to their bill with the Internal Revenue Service.

The change will cost the IRS an estimated $170 billion over the next decade, The Times reported, characterizing it as “a potential bonanza for America’s richest real estate investors.”

As the financial website Motley Fool explains, “Depreciation can dramatically reduce taxable income on rental profits.” Under current tax law, a married couple can already apply up to $500,000 in depreciation — the gradual, IRS-determined cost of maintaining a property — to their tax bill. The stimulus package lifts that cap for a three-year period.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” Peter Buell, of the accounting firm Marcum, told The Times. And it benefits the top 1% of taxpayers, making an existing aspect of tax law into a windfall, for some. 

As The Times notes, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, was able to avoid paying any taxes in 2018 by applying on-paper, if not actually realized, losses from ample property investments.

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