Exterior shot

photo by: Troy Thies

Historic Tax Credits

Help protect this essential preservation tool.

Determined Advocacy Preserves the Historic Tax Credit

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.

In addition to revitalizing communities and spurring economic growth, the HTC returns more to the Treasury than it costs—$1.20-1.25 in tax revenue for every dollar invested. Yet because historic rehabilitation projects frequently have higher costs, greater design challenges, and weaker market locations, they face lender and investor bias against investments.

Produced by the National Park Service and Rutgers University, the Annual Report on the Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit for FY 2017 demonstrates that the benefits of investment in HTC-related historic rehabilitation projects are extensive, increasing payrolls and production in nearly all sectors of the nation’s economy.

Advocacy Tools

These resources demonstrate how the federal Historic Tax Credit is a proven job-creating, community-revitalizing investment throughout the nation. Use them to help educate your elected officials at home and in Washington. Learn more at Preservation Leadership Forum.

Fast Facts about the Historic Tax Credit

Over the life of the program, the historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC) has:

  • created more than 2.5 million good-paying local jobs;
  • leveraged $144.6 billion in private investment in our communities;
  • used $27.5 billion in tax credits to generate more than $32.4 billion in federal tax revenue;
  • and preserved more than 43,000 buildings that form the historic fabric of our nation.

The Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act enjoys solid bipartisan support and would enhance the HTC by directing more investment to small business transactions along older Main Street corridors. Specifically, the bill creates a 30% credit for small deals to make these transactions more attractive to outside investors who tend to favor much larger investment opportunities.

In addition, the bill allows the historic tax credits in these small transactions to be transferred with lower transaction costs, as a tax certificate, making it easier for small business owners to bring outside investment into smaller transactions.

The economic benefits of historic rehabilitation go far beyond one building.

In 2012, the National Trust, in collaboration with the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition, recognized a fundamental need to develop a nation-wide effort to raise awareness and build support for the historic tax credit. This multi-year initiative to preserve and enhance the federal historic tax credit presumes that Congressional tax writers will approach reforming the tax code as if it were a blank slate and that programs, like the historic tax credit, will need to demonstrate their value.

Demonstrating the value of the federal HTC program is not difficult to do. It has been used to attract new private capital to the historic cores of cities and Main Streets across the nation. This investment has, in turn, enhanced property values, created jobs, generated local, state and federal tax revenues, and revitalized communities. Your voice is needed, however, to make sure the historic tax credit story is told and retold to decision makers in Washington if we are to ensure historic tax credit is enhanced in tax reform and not weakened or eliminated.

Research commissioned by the National Trust proves for the first time that the economic benefits of historic rehab go far beyond one building. Historic tax credit projects spur an increase in property values, draw new businesses, attract new residents and enlarge the tax base. Projects in Maryland, Georgia and Utah are profiled.

For more than three decades, the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) has successfully implemented a national policy of preserving our historic resources. It is the most significant investment the federal government makes toward the preservation of our historic buildings.