After more than five years of consistent advocacy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, together with our partners at the National Trust Community Investment Corporation and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, is pleased to report that the 20 percent historic tax credit (HTC) has survived the most significant rewrite of the tax code in more than 30 years. Congress has confirmed once again that incentivizing the rehabilitation of our historic buildings makes good economic sense. Read more.
The House and Senate tax bill Conference Committee has reconciled differences between the two versions of the legislation and final votes are expected this week. President Trump is expected to sign the bill before the end of the year.
The agreement eliminates the pre-1936 older building tax credit but includes the 20 percent historic tax credit (HTC) with provisions that require the credit be claimed over five years. While these changes diminish incentives to rehabilitate older and historic buildings, survival of the 20 percent credit in the most significant rewrite of the tax code in 30 years confirms that incentivizing investment in our historic properties remains a widely accepted and supported federal policy.
Retention of the 20 percent historic tax credit comes after the credit was repeatedly targeted for elimination. The House passed H.R. 1, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, on November 16, 2017, which eliminated both the 10 percent pre-1936 non-historic “old building” credit and the 20 percent historic tax credit. The Senate Finance Committee released its tax reform bill in mid-November, which eliminated the “old-building” credit and retained the HTC at a reduced level of 10 percent.
HTC advocates worked successfully with Senator Cassidy (R-LA) and other Finance Committee members in support of an amendment to restore the HTC to 20 percent. As a cost-saving measure, the “Cassidy Amendment” stipulated that the 20 percent credit would be earned over five years (or four percent per year). The Finance Committee approved the provision. The full Senate approved the tax bill, including the 20 percent HTC provision, by a 51-49 vote on November 25, 2017.
As the House and Senate tax bills were considered by the conference committee to work out differences, advocates continued their outreach to conferees in support of fully restored rehabilitation tax incentives. On Friday, December 15, the conference committee completed its work on a final bill, which included the Senate-passed HTC provisions and a final vote in by the House and Senate is expected this week.
At some point in the New Year, it is widely anticipated Congress will need to pass a “technical corrections” bill to amend certain aspects of the tax legislation. This may present an opportunity to encourage favorable changes to the HTC provisions that the National Trust, along with our partners at National Trust Community Investment Corporation and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, will be working toward.
This impressive achievement for preservation would not have happened without the strong leadership by many members of Congress who heard from constituents about the importance of the HTC and its role in revitalizing our communities. Thank you to everyone who took time to reach out to members of your Congressional delegation—it made a difference!
On Friday, December 15, House and Senate conference committee members reached agreement on the details of major tax legislation that will now proceed to a final vote in both chambers next week. The agreed-upon version keeps the historic tax credit at 20 percent but requires that the credit be taken over five years instead of all at once. The legislation repeals the 10 percent rehabilitation tax credit for non-historic buildings.
Inclusion of the historic tax credit in the most significant tax legislation to move through Congress in more than three decades is an exceptional reaffirmation that rehabilitation of historic buildings is sound federal policy and good for the nation. While several steps remain before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) becomes law, please take a moment to reflect on what a significant accomplishment retention of the historic tax credit is for the preservation movement and for the betterment of our communities.
Thank you to the many preservationists, practitioners, and stakeholders who worked countless hours to ensure this critical preservation tool remains a pillar of federal historic preservation policy.
Early in the morning of Saturday, December 2, the Senate passed its version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by a largely party-line 51-49 vote. The bill will now head to a Conference Committee next week where the House and Senate will spend either days or the next several weeks resolving differences between the respective proposals.
As a result of strong advocacy from around the country, the Senate bill includes a restored 20 percent historic tax credit (HTC) payable over five years. This is an impressive achievement, given the House bill completely repeals the HTC and the initial Senate legislation proposed to reduce the program by half. Through the leadership of several Senators—particularly Senator Cassidy (R-La.)—the historic tax credit is well-positioned heading into the final stages of the tax reform debate.
Despite vigorous advocacy and interest by several Senators to fully restore the HTC provisions, the opportunity to make those changes in the final Senate bill did not manifest. As the tax reform process advances, the National Trust and our partners will continue to look for opportunities—either in the current bill or subsequent tax legislation—to further strengthen the HTC provisions.
In the meantime, it is important the preservation community continue to urge their Congressional delegations to support the Senate historic tax credit provisions as the tax reform Conference Committee assembles the final tax reform legislation.
The effort to preserve the historic tax credit took a critical step forward in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee last night as tax legislation continues to advance through Congress. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) succeeded in increasing the historic tax credit back to 20 percent from the 10 percent level in the initial Senate proposal when the Finance Committee included his pro-growth amendment in the legislation it approved.
“The National Trust for Historic Preservation joins our Louisiana partners and advocates nationwide in thanking Senator Cassidy for his leadership on this critical amendment. While we are encouraged by this progress in the Senate, we are deeply disappointed that tax legislation approved by the House on Thursday would repeal the federal Historic Tax Credit and its community revitalizing impacts. For nearly 30 years, the credit has proven its remarkable track record of success and has even been called ‘economic good sense’ by former President Ronald Reagan," said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The legislative process is not over, however, and preservationists must continue their outreach to Congress to ensure the best possible outcome for the historic tax credit. The Finance Committee's tax reform bill heads to the Senate floor after the Thanksgiving holiday where opportunities exist to improve the HTC provisions further.
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