Federal tax policy is a complicated thing - and something that, despite years of being a taxpayer, I don’t even begin to understand. One piece that I am able to grasp, however, is that offering tax credits for the rehabilitation of older and historic buildings helps make real gains in linking historic preservation to community revitalization nationwide.
Thanks to the housing bill passed late last month that included several key enhancements to this incentive, the federal historic tax credit will work even better in the future. Given that, in 2007, it sparked more than $4 billion in private investment and created more than 40,000 new jobs, the fact that it was improved even further is amazing.
What does the tax credit do? It rewards building owners who choose to renovate and rehabilitate historic and older structures for use as rental housing and other commercial purposes. In lower income areas, where the overlap between historic buildings and households in poverty is greatest, this transformation of what is often considered “blight” can help stabilize neighborhoods, reduce displacement, and build vibrant communities.
-- Patrick J. Lally, Director of Congressional Affairs at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, contributed to this story.