Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Mathematics
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Star published a fantastic editorial that illustrates the math behind low-income housing tax credits (emphasis mine):
Here’s how it works. Assume that you are a developer. You plan to build a low-income housing project with a total cost of $11 million. Of that, assume $10 million is eligible for the credits (land costs are excluded). The credits are limited to 90 percent of that figure, so assume that you get $9 million in credits.
The credits then are sold to investors. Assume that the investors, after discounting the net present value of the credits over 10 years, buy them for 60 percent of their face value — or about $5.4 million. Assume also that you get a regular mortgage loan equal to 70 percent of the $11 million total cost of the project — about $7.7 million. These are conservative estimates.
So the developer now has funding of approximately $13 million ($5.4 million plus $7.7 million) for a project that costs $11 million. The developer will receive a $2 million check at the closing, less any escrows.
Later in the editorial, the author demonstrates how these programs can be further manipulated to benefit the developer above all others. Then, he concludes:
At a time when government at every level is becoming insolvent, all of these programs should be subjected to a top-to-bottom review.
If tax credits programs in Missouri were continuously scrutinized, Missourians would be better off. This is particularly important because the Missouri state government doles out a tremendous amount of money through this program, which is a tab that taxpayers have to pick up. Using the “Show-Me: Tax Credits” application at Show-Me Living, I isolated the trend of tax credits issued under the Low-Income Housing program. Since 2000, there have been 437 credits issued in Missouri for a total amount of $1,360,900,251. The average amount awarded to a single recipient is $3,114,188. The smallest amount awarded to a single recipient is $14,230, and the largest awarded is $13,320,000.
The only positive thing that I can say about the following graph is that it illustrates a downward trend after 2006. However, I wonder if the decrease in the amount of credits issued and redeemed is simply indicative of a general decrease in construction projects because of the recession. It may be that fewer people build or renovate during periods of recession, regardless of state tax incentives.
Trend of Total Low-Income Housing Tax Credits Issued in Missouri