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Lawmaker Proposals Target Money Funds, Closed-End Funds, Fund Accounting

A House bill seeks to loosen the rules around closed-end funds and proposes that the SEC within a year after enactment revise any rules to the extent necessary to allow any 1940-Act registered closed-end fund to rely on the securities offering and proxy rules used by traditional operating companies. In testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services, ICI chief Paul Schott Stevens supported the proposal, noting a steady decline in the number of closed-end funds and new closed-end fund offerings in the last several years. “By simplifying the closed-end fund offering process and liberalizing existing restrictions on communications with investors before and during an offering, the legislation would reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens that raise costs for investors.” A similar measure targeting business development companies also seeks to simplify the offerings process and lift some restrictions on communications with investors. The bill also proposes to change leverage requirements for BDCs, specifically, to lower the asset coverage requirement for senior securities to 150 percent from 200 percent. Similarly, the Consumer Financial Choice and Capital Markets Protection Act of 2017 would rescind many of the 2014 money market fund reforms, including the requirement that prime institutional and tax-exempt institutional money market funds float their NAVs. 

The controversial GOP Senate tax bill contains a provision that requires individual investors and robo-advisors to use the first-in-first-out accounting method for determining gain or loss on a disposition of a security. The proposal applies to holdings of one security that were purchased at different times and prices. The price of the portfolio’s oldest securities would be used to calculate the cost basis of any security sold, exchanged or disposed of except when the average cost basis method is used. Vanguard and Eaton Vance had opposed a previous version of the proposal that included fund firms. However, critics maintain that the FIFO accounting method will expose individual investors to more taxes, the Wall Street Journal reported.