Six Best Ways to Use State Housing Agency Web Sites
As the federal agency that’s responsible for administering the tax credit law, the IRS issues regulations, rulings, and other guidance; audits sites for noncompliance; and decides what penalties to impose for noncompliance. And state housing agencies monitor compliance with the tax credit law in a particular state. They’re also responsible for reporting noncompliance to the IRS so that it can take appropriate action.
Each of the 58 agencies has its own Web site. And nearly all of these Web sites offer useful information or key forms that you can access from your office. We’ve visited each agency’s Web site and come up with a list of six online activities that can help you manage your site more efficiently. Keep in mind that each agency decides what to put on its Web site, so your agency’s Web site might not offer all the activities on our list. For your convenience, at the end of the article, we’ve listed each state housing agency’s Web address so you can visit your agency’s Web site and check what’s on it.
1. Get Copy of Compliance Manual and QAP
It’s essential to become familiar with how your state has adapted the tax credit program to fit its needs. To do this, get a copy of your state housing agency’s compliance manual and its qualified allocation plan (QAP). QAPs detail the selection criteria and application requirements for housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.
QAPs along with compliance manuals contain your agency’s rules and procedures for monitoring tax credit compliance in your state and reporting noncompliance to the IRS. Many state housing agencies offer their compliance manual and QAP as documents you can download from their Web site.
Once you download these documents, read them carefully. You may discover that your state housing agency has procedures or restrictions you didn’t know about. Downloading these documents to your computer is also useful because you can easily access information you need using key words.
Also, if your agency offers these documents on its Web site, be sure to periodically check for updates. State housing agencies routinely draft new QAPs and hold public forums to solicit comments about the proposed plan before adopting a final version.
2. Download Household Certification Forms
You must use many forms when certifying and recertifying low-income households at your tax credit site. For instance, you’ll need to use a “military pay verification” form to verify the income of a household member who’s temporarily away in the military. And if a household member gets unemployment compensation, you’ll need to send a “verification of unemployment benefits” form to the unemployment agency to complete.
Many agencies have their own versions that site managers must use. Many state housing agencies offer at least some of their certification and verification forms through their Web site. If this is the case with your agency, you’ll have an easy time getting the forms you need and making sure you’re using the correct ones.
Download all the household certification and recertification forms your agency makes available on its Web site to your computer. Then you can print as many copies as you need for your low-income household certifications and annual recertifications.
3. Get Local Income Limits and Rents
Each year, HUD releases new income limits, which are based on area median gross income. Many state housing agencies list the income limits for the various areas of their state on their Web site. You may find that accessing such a list through your state housing agency is more convenient than going through HUD’s income limit database for the entire country.
4. Find Out About Compliance Workshops
Many state housing agencies offer workshops to help you comply with tax credit rules. You may be able to get information about these workshops—such as the dates, locations, topics, and fees—by visiting your agency’s Web site.
5. Get Agency Contact Info
Your agency’s Web site should have information that can help you direct your tax credit compliance questions to the right staff members. For instance, you might wonder whether your agency will accept faxes or PDF emails of certain verification forms, or when new income limits take effect. Or you may have questions about or need help with certain parts of your agency’s Web site.
Look for a contact list or an “about us” section on your agency’s Web site. This section usually lists agency staffers, their title, their phone number, and their email address. Rather than call your state housing agency with each small question that arises, send an email to the appropriate staffer. You might be able to do this just by clicking on the staffer’s email address on the Web site.
6. Find Out About Compliance Monitoring Fees
Check whether your state housing agency offers information about its compliance monitoring fees on its Web site. The IRS allows state housing agencies to pass on to owners some of the expenses the agencies incur in monitoring tax credit sites by charging compliance monitoring fees.
As a tax credit manager, you’re responsible for making sure the owner of your site is aware of these fees, and that the fees get paid on time. Compliance monitoring fees vary from state to state and normally are small. But paying them late can be costly and can damage your relationship with your state housing agency.
If your agency offers up-to-date information about compliance monitoring fees on its Web site, this will make it easier for you to anticipate how much the owner will owe, and see that the fees get paid on time.
Find Your State Housing Agency’s Web Site
Here’s an alphabetical list of the 58 state housing agencies, along with a Web address for each agency.
Alabama Housing Finance Authority
Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
Arizona Department of Housing/Arizona Housing Finance Authority
Arkansas Development Finance Authority
California Housing Finance Agency
California Tax Credit Allocation Committee
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority
Connecticut Housing Finance Authority
Delaware State Housing Authority
District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development
District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency
Florida Housing Finance Corporation
Georgia Department of Community Affairs/Georgia Housing and Finance Authority
Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation
Idaho Housing and Finance Association
Illinois Housing Development Authority
Indiana Housing Finance Authority
Iowa Finance Authority
Kansas Housing Resources Corporation
Kentucky Housing Corporation
Louisiana Housing Finance Agency
Maine State Housing Authority
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
Michigan State Housing Development Authority
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency
Mississippi Home Corporation
Missouri Housing Development Commission
Montana Board of Housing
Nebraska Investment Finance Authority
Nevada Housing Division
New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority
New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority
New York City Housing Development Corporation
New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal
New York State Housing Finance Agency/State of New York Mortgage Agency
North Carolina Housing Finance Agency
North Dakota Housing Finance Agency
Ohio Housing Finance Agency
Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency
Oregon Housing and Community Services
Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
Puerto Rico Housing Finance Authority
Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation
South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority
South Dakota Housing Development Authority
Tennessee Housing Development Agency
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Utah Housing Corporation
Vermont Housing Finance Agency
Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority
Virginia Housing Development Authority
Washington State Housing Finance Commission
West Virginia Housing Development Fund
Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
Wyoming Community Development Authority