Nareit’s REITwise: 2020 Law, Accounting & Finance Conference provides attendees with a broad yet focused educational program that presents a clear picture of current political, economic, and market events that impact legal, financial, tax, and accounting operations within REITs and publicly traded real estate companies. Puneet Sharma, global director of tax at W. P. Carey Inc. (NYSE: WPC), will moderate a REITwise panel session on REIT Operational Tax Issues. A five-time attendee of REITwise, Sharma discusses the tax law, finance, and accounting issues that are on his radar in 2020. Learn more about REITwise: 2020 Law, Accounting & Finance Conference, being held April 1-3 at the Washington Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C., here.
What are the most important tax law, finance, and accounting issues that you’re watching in 2020?
As a REIT, we’re always watching what’s happening in Washington with REIT regulations and assessing the impact on our portfolio, if any. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was generally considered positive for REITs and its investors, so we are expecting the momentum from that to continue in 2020. Since W. P. Carey is a US REIT with operations in both the US and Europe, we also keep a close eye on how countries are responding to the globalization of business and real estate in order to protect their tax base. Similar to the European Union Mandatory Disclosure Requirements that goes into effect as of July 1, 2020, we anticipate a growing trend towards enhanced compliance and transparency requirements in Europe, and we expect that to continue across the globe. Fortunately, as companies expand their operations and supply chains continue to grow, W. P. Carey is well-positioned with the global expertise and local teams to execute on cross-border, multi-jurisdictional transactions.
What do you most look forward to when you attend REITwise?
REITwise brings together industry leaders and subject matter experts in the REIT space from around the country. If there’s a tax issue or regulation that is expected to affect REITs, there is no better conference to gain awareness. With technology, government regulation, and social change continuing to have a big impact on real estate economics, it’s very important for me as a tax director to stay ahead of these trends. In addition, I look forward to strengthening and expanding my existing professional network. This is an invaluable resource to lean on throughout the year.
What advice would you give to industry colleagues who have never attended REITwise before?
A tremendous amount of effort and thought goes into organizing and preparing for the REITwise conference to cover regulatory updates, panel discussions, and networking sessions that allow participants to stay engaged throughout the conference. I would encourage participants to attend as many sessions as feasible, including the general sessions in the morning that focus on industry outlook. The knowledge you gain from the experts and understanding of the industry trends will help tax advisors of all levels become a more well-rounded professional. In addition, I would also encourage everyone to attend the networking sessions organized by Nareit. The network you build will be invaluable in the future.
What have been the biggest tax provision challenges recently?
It has been twofold. One is the overall complexity with changes both on the accounting and tax regulation side. The second challenge has been finding the right people who have the subject matter expertise to help companies navigate the complexities of tax provisioning. Finding the talent that can help companies accurately report their tax provisioning in their financial statements on a quarterly and annual basis is essential. W. P Carey has built a strong team both in the US and abroad with subject matter experts to not only invest in high-quality real estate, but also manage our tax provisioning process which has allowed us to bring operational efficiency to our financial reporting process.