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Oregon-Northwest

Walden says bill would cut rural housing costs

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By eliminating tax on transfer of water infrastructure

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday they said would provide relief to small private rural water utilities and prevent increases in housing costs in rural communities where affordable housing is already a challenge. 

An identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).  

Traditionally, when a housing development is built, the developer will install water infrastructure, which is then transferred to a water utility free of charge. Prior to 2017, the water utility was not taxed on this, which prevented the home buyer from paying twice for the infrastructure.

Under current law, this transfer is taxed and state regulators pass it back to the developer, which drives up home costs by making homebuyers pay again for these assets.

The tax also is causing cancellations of planned developments, which further restricts housing availability in rural communities that are already struggling with housing supply and affordability issues, they said.

The lawmakers said their bill would eliminate this burdensome tax on the transfer of water infrastructure from developer to utilities. 

“We know that in many rural communities, housing is already a challenge, and the current tax on the transfer of water infrastructure has not helped," Walden said. "This tax has caused an increase in housing costs and a decrease in new housing developments in many parts of my rural district, as well as across the country.” 

“One developer in Central Oregon indicated to my office that this tax resulted in an increase of $1.7 million in development costs for a development of over 200 homes," Walden added.

"This tax is senseless, only making the housing market even more unaffordable than it already is. I am glad Congresswoman Kuster and I could come together to introduce this bill, which will increase Americans’ access to affordable housing.

"With this bill already introduced in the Senate, thanks to Senator Shaheen, it is my hope that we are able to swiftly pass this bill and get it to the president’s desk for signing.”

“I am proud to work with Rep. Walden and Senator Shaheen on this commonsense, bipartisan legislation,” said Kuster. “It is imperative that Congress fix this error from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that needlessly increases housing costs and makes it harder to provide clean drinking water to families.

"This tax has already had a negative impact in my district, where building out new water infrastructure projects is critical to mitigating exposure to PFAS and other harmful chemicals that can infiltrate private well systems. I urge my colleagues to quickly pass this bill to help our small business water providers and protect public health in rural communities.”

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