Louisiana Preservation Leaders Praise U.S. Senate Action to Support the Federal Historic Tax Credit and Express Grave Concern with Repeal Provision in U.S. House Legislation

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Provision championed by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy takes an important step in preserving the HTC, a pro-growth economic development program that has created jobs and generated private investment throughout Louisiana.

New Orleans, LA – Preservation leaders from across Louisiana and the nation applauded efforts by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to preserve the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) in legislation overhauling the nation’s tax code. At the same time, there is extreme concern among historic preservation stakeholders regarding a provision in a tax reform bill (H.R. 1) passed yesterday by the House of Representatives that would entirely repeal the federal HTC.

Louisiana is a national leader in historic rehabilitation and usage of the federal HTC. Repealing the HTC would have devastating consequences on neighborhoods and economic development throughout the state.

Tax overhaul legislation, as introduced in the U.S. Senate on November 9, would have cut the existing 20 percent federal HTC in half. Cutting the HTC in half would stifle historic rehabilitation and have an outsized, negative impact on historic rehabilitation projects of smaller size and in rural and Main Street communities.

During yesterday’s consideration of the tax reform bill by the Senate Finance Committee, a provision championed by Sen. Cassidy was adopted to preserve the credit at the 20 percent level. To comply with committee budget rules, the amendment also spreads out the claiming of the HTC over five years. Currently, the HTC can be claimed in its entirety in one year. Sen. Cassidy’s amendment is critical to saving the HTC.

In addition, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) has also been working with his Senate colleagues to protect the pro-growth HTC, which for nearly 40 years has been used to spark the rebirth of old and often blighted buildings of historical significance. Many members of Louisiana’s delegation to the House of Representatives have been active and vocal in their support for the HTC as well.

“Louisiana’s congressional delegation includes national leaders in their understanding that this tax credit helps communities with old buildings and old neighborhoods – like New Orleans and Louisiana and much of the rest of the country – revitalize their historic assets,” said Jack Davis, interim executive director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. “We appreciate and admire Sen. Cassidy’s efforts in the Finance Committee to protect the HTC and ask for applause from his constituents.”

According to a study commissioned by the National Park Service, the federal HTC has encouraged more than $131 billion in private investment, resulted in the rehabilitation of more than 42,000 buildings, created more than 2.4 million jobs, and provided a net positive return to the U.S. Treasury. Since Fiscal Year 2002, in Louisiana alone, the federal HTC has fostered more than $2.5 billion in private investment and created more than 38,000 jobs.

"Preserve Louisiana is grateful for Senator Cassidy’s effort to protect a key tool in community development and economic growth - our federal Historic Tax Credit,” commented Fairleigh Jackson, Executive Director of Preserve Louisiana. “It is disappointing to see that the tax reform bill passed by the House of Representatives included a full repeal of the federal Historic Tax Credit; we are very hopeful that a final tax reform bill will retain this important pro-growth program."

To encourage catalytic preservation and revitalization, the federal HTC provides a 20 percent tax credit for certain costs associated with the rehabilitation of qualified historic buildings. Restoration work must meet standards set by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the tax credit can only be realized after the work is complete and inspected.

“As an organization actively preserving endangered historic buildings and supporting building owners in all regions of the state, the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation is grateful for the leadership of Senators Cassidy and Kennedy to maintain the 20 percent federal historic tax credit,” said Brian Davis, Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation Executive Director. “Preserving this important program will continue to create jobs, eliminate blight and highlight our diverse history for our citizens and tourists alike.”

Senators Cassidy, Kennedy, and many members of Louisiana’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives have worked hard to educate their colleagues about the importance of this economic development and cultural preservation program.

"We applaud Senator Cassidy for his tireless effort to retain the Historic Tax Credit, a vital economic tool in revitalizing our small towns and Main Streets throughout the great state of Louisiana,” stated Jesse D. Cannon, FAIA, Chairman Louisiana Architectural Foundation.

The preservation community looks forward to working with the entire Louisiana congressional delegation to ensure that any final tax reform bill produced by Congress preserves the HTC.

"The federal Historic Tax Credit program provides the nation’s most effective driver in promoting historic preservation and community revitalization, delivering a four-to-one return on investment for every dollar spent,” stated Sandra Stokes, Louisiana Landmarks Society President. “These credits are responsible for generating jobs, raising property values and preserving the historic character of our cities. Simply put, they make good economic sense. We are grateful for Senator Cassidy’s hard work to protect this effective pro-growth program and urge our congressional leaders to retain the Historic Tax Credit.” 

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