February 17, 2005
The most significant historic preservation
incentives that our government has to offer- historic rehabilitation
tax credits in the Internal Revenue Code - are themselves
in need of preservation. The provisions now have very limited
application, conflict with similar tax credits, and don't
provide enough incentive to restore most historic properties,
says Thomas Wolfe, The AIA's Senior Director of Federal Affairs.
"These limitations weren't apparent
when the tax credits were created in 1986," he notes.
"They are now."
To help remedy the situation, Representatives
Rob Portman (R-OH) and William Jefferson (D-LA), with the
support of the AIA and The National Trust for Historic Preservation,
on February 8 introduced the Community Restoration and Revitalization
Act of 2005 (HR 659). Among other benefits, the new bill would
provide greater incentives for private investment in older
properties, broadening the current 10% tax credit to cover
any building over 50 years old, including residential properties,
which are not covered under existing law. Other benefits include
restructuring the historic credit so that it can be used in
tandem with the low income tax credit, thus creating affordable
housing benefits, and encouraging smaller-scale development.
The bill would especially help lower-income communities, since
over half of the country's 12,500 historic districts overlap
census tracts where the poverty rate exceeds 20%.
The bi-partisan sponsors believe it has
a good chance of passing, considering its fairly low cost
and reliance on business, not government, for implementation.