Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

A federal historic rehabilitation tax credit is available for income-producing buildings which are designated historic by the federal government and which are substantially rehabilitated according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Under this program, 20% of the total qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QRE’s) are returned to the owner in the form of a dollar-for-dollar credit on federal income taxes.

Successful certification of the completed project and obtaining the subsequent tax benefits is dependent upon all interior and exterior rehabilitation work meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

The three-part Historic Preservation Certification Application (HPCA) is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) at the state level, which has review and comment authority, and by the National Park Service (NPS) at the federal level, which makes the final decision. More information about the program can be found here at the NPS-TPS website.

Impact of 2017 Tax Reform

While many aspects of the program remain unchanged, these are the new provisions for projects that become eligible for the program after January 1, 2018:

  • Credit must be claimed over five years.
  • A former 10% non-certified rehabilitation credit for pre-1936 buildings was repealed.
  • Transition rules to qualify for prior law require building ownership before January 1, 2018 and project completion within strict timeframes. Implications of certain aspects of the transition rules will be clarified in the coming months.
  • A strict set of requirements for retaining existing internal structure and external walls in place.

Visit the NPS tax incentives page for more the latest information on the code. 

What types of projects qualify?

Here are the basic requirements:

  • It is 20% credit on all hard and soft costs related to the rehabilitation of a historic building.
  • Generally, the building must be at least 50 years old.
  • The building must be an income-producing property, such as an office, rental apartments, hotel, retail or industrial. Owner-occupied residences do not qualify.
  • The combined hard and soft costs, called qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QREs) or eligible costs on which the 20% credit is based, must exceed the developer’s adjusted basis in the building.
  • The building must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places (either individually or in a district), or be in a federally certified local district, to claim the credit. Any building that is a minimum of 50 years old and retains some of it original integrity may qualify for designation.
  • Work must be reviewed and certified by the National Park Service (NPS).

HTCs can be monetized and used as project equity through an investment structure that allocates the credits to an investment partner in return for an equity contribution. See how we have helped our clients monetize HTCs for their historic rehabilitation projects.    

Can the historic credits be used with other tax credit equity?

The federal historic tax credits are often twinned with other federal tax credit programs such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or the New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC). The programs work well together and can supply a significant amount of equity to a project.

Does my building qualify?

Contact us and we would be happy to discuss whether your project qualifies for any available historic tax credits.