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Congressional threat to the Federal Historic Tax Credit

November 20, 2017

The Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is at risk of being reduced, or lost completely, if either of the proposed tax reform bills in the House or Senate passes in their current forms. The House of Representatives introduced a tax reform bill that would eliminate the HTC completely. The Senate’s initial bill cut the credit in half—from 20 percent to 10 percent of eligible costs—and eliminated the 10 percent credit for non-historic buildings built before 1936. Preservation advocates successfully lobbied the Senate to restore the 20 percent credit, but changes that reduce the value of the incentive are still included.

The Historic Tax Credit is the most significant investment the federal government makes toward the preservation of historic buildings. The credit has been a significant incentive for the revitalization of over 42,000 historic properties across the country, including Modern sites, such as the Lever House and Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ, the latter of which is in the process of applying for them. Supporters of the HTC are strongly encouraged to call and email their legislators and ask them to restore the HTC to its current levels in the proposed tax reform. Both the National Trust for Historic Preservation  and the Coalition for American Heritage have helpful resources, including legislator contact information and talking points. 

See a map of all projects that used the tax credit as of 2015 HERE.

In addition to revitalizing historic buildings, the HTC also attracts private investment, creates jobs, and is fiscally responsible: for every dollar spent in tax credits, $1.20 is returned to the Treasury. This and other data can be found in an annual report on the economic impact of the HTC published by the National Park Service and the Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

“Historic tax credit, engine for urban renewal, eliminated in tax reform plan,”, November 2, 2017 

“Tax reform: Here’s what the Senate bill means for housing,”, November 10, 2017

Lever House, photo: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons