For seasoned veterans of the apartment housing industry, the story of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was one of bankruptcies, jobs lost, and investment opportunities stifled – sending damaging ripple effects across the industry in the years that followed.
Three decades later, sweeping tax reform was on Washington’s agenda once again. Given that tax reform of this scale had not been undertaken since the 1980s, the policy debate would be crowded. NAA knew that it had to heed past lessons by working with lawmakers to find a way to ease into tax reform without almost destroying an industry along the way. To kick off this effort, NAA hired Story Partners to launch Protect the Lease, a multi-faceted national grassroots campaign to ensure the White House and policymakers understood what was at stake for the apartment housing industry, and, ultimately, the U.S. economy, as they looked to overhaul the U.S. tax code.
The Protect the Lease campaign advocated for smart tax policy to promote economic growth, job creation and investment in neighborhoods and communities. Through the campaign, NAA:
- Highlighted the benefits the industry provides – many of which could be in jeopardy if tax reform was not done right – through a campaign website, issue-area videos, multimedia content and earned media
- Activated industry employees to share their personal stories with lawmakers about what’s at stake for them through letters, videos testimonials and op-eds. Methods to recruit industry advocates included a national behavioral advertising campaign, calls-to-action through NAA’s social media platforms, stories and newsletters blurbs in NAA communications channels, a cutting-edge grassroots booth at the industry conference, and affiliate member engagement
The result: NAA achieved its policy objectives in tax reform legislation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Five of its policy priorities were protected, and one was improved.