Wicker, Cochran Applaud Approval of Go Zone Amendments

Senate approves measure to extend Go Zone bond authority, low-income housing tax credits

March 8, 2010

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today approved two amendments to expand and extend Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) tax benefits that are important to Gulf Coast recovery, according to U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran.

The Senate accepted the two amendments by unanimous consent as part of the Tax Extenders Act (H.R. 4213), a broader measure to extend numerous tax provisions that would otherwise expire.  The action in the Senate was praised by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

The first amendment, authored by Wicker and cosponsored by Cochran, would give Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama until Jan. 1, 2012, to allocate tax-exempt GO Zone bonds previously issued by Congress following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The GO Zone bonds have been an important tool in economic development efforts across Mississippi to finance the acquisition, construction, and renovation of commercial real property in Mississippi.

While traditional tax-exempt bonds can only be issued by the government and non-profit corporations, the GO Zone bond program, administered by the Mississippi Development Authority, allows this preferential financing to be extended to businesses.  Under current law, the authority to issue these bonds expires on Jan. 1, 2011.  The amendment extends the window to issue these allocated bonds by one year.
The second amendment, cosponsored by the two Mississippi senators, would extend the placed-in-service date by two years for the GO Zone low-income housing tax credits.   

“The GO Zone bond program has been successful because it has made it more appealing for businesses to invest in the Gulf Coast,” Wicker said.  “However, the economic downturn and the inability to access credit have hindered the ability of the program to maximize its full potential.  This extension will provide the time needed to fully realize the benefits of the program.”
“The GO Zone bonds and other development incentives have been powerful tools for us to have to continue rebuilding Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.  Extending the life of bonds and other tax incentives means the state can attract more of the private-sector investments we need to fully recover from Hurricane Katrina,” Cochran said.

“I appreciate the hard work by Sen. Cochran and Sen. Wicker to extend the deadlines of the GO ZONE provisions,” Governor Barbour said. “This amendment helps the Gulf Coast continue its recovery by allowing more time to utilize the valuable GO ZONE bond and bonus depreciation provisions, which assist in attracting needed investment that creates jobs. Also, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits included in the legislation assists our efforts to provide affordable housing. These extensions are critical to Mississippi’s overall recovery plan to get residents working and back into quality housing.”

In addition to the two amendments accepted today, H.R. 4213 includes a provision that extends the GO Zone bonus depreciation tax incentive through Dec. 31, 2010.  Under current law, this provision expired on Dec. 31, 2009.  This provision is similar to stand-alone legislation introduced by Wicker and Cochran last year.

The Senate is expected to continue debate on H.R. 4213 next week.