Jennifer Bonar Gray's job is unlike any other in the multifamily industry: As the new vice president of tax at the National Multi Housing Council, this Capitol Hill veteran is dedicated exclusively to federal and state multifamily tax issues as part of the joint legislative program of NMHC and the National Apartment Association. The Harvard law grad, who holds a bachelor's degree from Centre College, previously was tax counsel to Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky. Her new position marks her first foray into the multifamily industry.
Q: What appealed to you about this job?
A: NMHC has a great reputation, both within the housing industry and in Washington. This opportunity gave me the chance to focus almost exclusively on tax issues, which is my technical training, and to combine that technical work with my Capitol Hill experience while contributing to the housing industry.
Q: What do you see as a significant challenge for the multifamily industry in the coming year?
A: We actually have several challenges for 2007 regarding taxation. With all of the renewed emphasis on energy efficiency, we would like to see meaningful tax incentives enacted that will encourage owners of existing apartment properties—as well as new apartment communities—to invest in upgrades that will yield much greater energy efficiency. Also, while it may or may not happen this year, the sooner Congress extends the federal estate-tax law provisions in effect for 2009 to the year 2010 and beyond, the better it will be for estate planning in general. We continue to be against full, outright repeal of the estate tax. We are also committed to retention of the Section 1031 “like-kind” exchange rules that allow for relatively smooth transfers of properties. And we are hoping to see some movement on issues such as “exit tax” relief for older properties in need of repair and modernization and a renewed look at the 25 percent depreciation recapture tax, which is starting to stifle investment.
Q: How did you get into politics?
A: In 1991, I did a college internship in the Lexington, Ky., district office for former Congressman Larry Hopkins. Congressman Hopkins ran for Kentucky governor that year, and I became involved in that campaign. I followed that internship with internships for the Kentucky Republican Party in Frankfort and for then-Congressman Jim Bunning and Sen. Mitch McConnell [of Kentucky] in Washington. I served as state chairman of the Kentucky Federation of College Republicans during the 1992 presidential race and later as president of the Harvard Law School Republicans.
Q: What inspired you to move to Washington, D.C.?
A: I always had an interest in politics—particularly an interest in Congress. I had spent a summer in Washington during college as an intern for then-Congressman Jim Bunning and Sen. Mitch McConnell, and I always felt it was a great city with unique career.
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