Opposition Grows on Proposal to Cut Bond Transparency

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In November we blogged about an IRS proposal that would lessen the public approval and transparency requirements states and localities must follow when they issue tax-exempt bonds for private economic development and housing projects. These bonds have been used for a variety of purposes involving affordable housing, nonprofit organizations (including hospitals),  and (in some cases) commercial firms, Wal-Mart warehouses, and private prisons. [This paragraph was updated on 1/23/09].

The following local and national groups joined Good Jobs First and Good Jobs New York in submitting comments against the proposal, either individually or jointly:

Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (Chicago, IL)

Citizens for Tax Justice (Washington, DC)

Coalition for the Homeless (New York, NY)

Community Service Society (New York, NY)

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY)

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (Brooklyn, NY)

The Fiscal Policy Institute (Albany, NY and New York, NY)

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Washington, DC)

Law Office of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, on behalf of its Building and Construction Trades Clients (Alameda, CA)

Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County (Santa Rosa, CA)

Metro Justice (Rochester, NY)

New Jersey Policy Perspective (Trenton, NJ)

New York Industrial Retention Network (New York, NY)

New York Jobs with Justice (New York, NY)

New Yorkers for Parks (New York, NY)

NYC Park Advocates (New York, NY)

Pratt Center for Community Development (Brooklyn, NY)

Service Employees International Union (Washington, DC)

Service Employees International Union, Local 32 BJ (New York, New York)

UNITE HERE (San Francisco, CA)

United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1500 (New York, New York)

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (Boston, MA)

Willet, Daniel (Silver Spring, MD)

Working Families Party (NY)

Those listed above specifically challenged the following aspects of the IRS proposal, in addition to others:

1) Decreasing from two weeks to one the amount of time the public has to research an announced project and prepare testimony in support or opposition.

2) Allowing localities to proceed with no hearing at all if there are no “timely requests” to participate.

3) Limiting the information now made publicly available prior to a hearing by allowing for more general project descriptions.

[Updated on 1/21/09] A public hearing is scheduled for January 26 at 10 AM at the IRS. Anyone wishing to testify must submit an outline of topics to be discussed by December 29, 2008. Please contact us for more information.

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